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'Affordable' Housing Remains Out of Reach for Full-Time Working Families

Nowhere in Baltimore can two full-time minimum-wage earners afford the median rent for a two-bedroom apartment, according to a new report.
People at the Gilmor Homes housing projects in Baltimore, Maryland.
People at the Gilmor Homes housing projects in Baltimore, Maryland.REUTERS/Eric Thayer

For Baltimore’s Project C.O.R.E. urban redevelopment plan, the state of Maryland is offering up hundreds of millions of dollars to seduce investors into developing some of the city’s most blighted corridors. The challenge for those developers will be to find ways to ensure that new and renovated housing is affordable for low-wage earners. “Affordable,” however, has long-ago become an elusive target, especially in cities like Baltimore where both poverty and housing costs are out of control.

This double crisis has not only continued to keep very-low-income households from securing stable housing, but it’s also been slimming down housing options for working- and middle-class families, as well. So writes Philip M.E. Garboden, a doctoral candidate in sociology and applied math at Johns Hopkins University, in a new report for the Baltimore-based Abell Foundation. Even if wages were raised considerably—say, boosting minimum wages to $15 an hour—a family of four would still have a difficult time securing housing. Writes Garboden in the report: