The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s Low to Moderate Income Survey for the 3rd quarter showed a slight decrease. Employment improved slightly, but the improvement was offset by the decline in the availability of affordable housing and credit.
Our homeless families, of course, fall into the low income segment the survey measures. We saw some of the same improvement in employment recently. The average wage for the adults who found jobs was hovering around $10/hour until September when it rose to $12.
At $12/hour, a single parent will earn about $25,000 per year. Housing costs will start to become a burden if rent and utilities climb together are above 30% of income = $7,500/year or $624/mo. Rent alone averages $784 for a two bedroom apartment in the Kansas City area, which means our families will remain financially fragile.
However, our families will not be alone. A study from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, a record 20.2 million people spent more than 50% of their income on housing as far back as 2010. Most of these families will live in or on the brink of poverty, but the vast majority will not become homelessness.
If history prevails, 80% of our parents will not become homeless again. They may struggle, but they leave better equipped to provide for themselves and their children. And, the children leave knowing they have options that may break the cycle of poverty.