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President Trump's reported to be ready to sign disaster relief bill without money for border security. Also on the Friday rundown: House bills would give millions a path to citizenship; and remembering California’s second-deadliest disaster.

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Wyoming Rental Housing Costs Rising Faster than Wages

In Casper, workers must earn at least $16 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment. Residents of Fremont, Calif., must earn a six-figure salary to rent a median-priced one-bedroom apartment. (Blue Diamond Gallery)
In Casper, workers must earn at least $16 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment. Residents of Fremont, Calif., must earn a six-figure salary to rent a median-priced one-bedroom apartment. (Blue Diamond Gallery)
April 18, 2019

CASPER, Wyo. — Rents are on the rise in Wyoming and across the nation, according to a new report from Apartment List.

Almost half of renting households nationally spend more than 30 percent of their gross income on rent, qualifying them as "cost burdened" by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Wyoming Housing Network housing counselor Charlie Jackson said it's getting much harder for people to find housing at costs that meet the national standard.

"Incomes haven't increased as rapidly as the cost of housing,” Jackson said. “It's getting to the point where it's hard even for a two-income family to be able to afford safe and affordable housing."

In Wyoming, the energy industry has long created hot markets, which hit permanent residents especially hard. Jackson said rents in Douglas, for example, are extremely high today - if you can even find a vacancy. She said it's become next to impossible to even find space in area campgrounds.

However, Wyoming ranked better than costly East and West Coast markets. Renters in California's Bay Area city of Fremont must earn a six-figure salary to afford a median-priced one-bedroom apartment.

Jackson said to afford an average two-bedroom rental in Wyoming, workers need to make $16.46 an hour. And she noted for those living on Wyoming’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, even if two workers in a household put 100 percent of their earnings toward rent, there still would not be enough.

Jackson said rising rents leave many Wyoming families struggling to pay for basic needs, forcing difficult trade-offs.

"Which makes it very difficult to put food on the table, to pay for any unexpected medical expenses,” she said. “We see a lot of people being evicted because they are unable to pay their rent because they needed a simple car repair."

In 2016, there were more than 71,000 renter households in Wyoming. Jackson said the waiting list for a federally subsidized Section 8 two-bedroom apartment that her group manages in Casper is at least six months, and can be as long as two years in other parts of the state. Nationally, just 1-in-4 people who qualify for federal housing assistance, public housing or vouchers actually get help.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY