To Afford a One-Bedroom Apartment in Seattle, a Minimum Wage Worker Has to Work 87 Hours Per Week


I find it surprising that so many finding it surprising that a popular thriving city constrained by geography, as is NYC, would be incredibly expensive to live in.
So move back to where you came from. Problem solved.
The state and local government leadership wants to make it even more of a financial burden to live in Seattle -- that's why it hikes sales taxes and property taxes over and over. It's real base (profitable businesses and the richest households) appreciates those efforts that keep the taxing targeting them at the ultra-libertarian ideal.

Does that include people who were BORN here, but who also can no longer afford to LIVE here?



We have to pay for things (roads, bridges, utility infrastructure, sidewalks, and other public amenities) somehow, and taxation is the method we've universally adopted in this country to do that. And since we'll never get a state income tax here, sales and property taxes are the only other viable options. But hey, if you have a better funding plan, please share, as I'm sure the folks in government would love to hear about it.
This is America: Fuck The Poor.
Just you wait! In 20 plus years we'll have a under serving semi-rapid transit system that will solve all those problems.
The figures in this article seem fairly low to me, like, 2015 numbers. Seems like apartments are even more outrageously unaffordable now.
I think that landlords will raise rents on Jan. 1st. If one can afford to live where you do right now. If you couldn't, you wouldn't be living there right now.

Since those that work in the Seattle City Limits will get a $1.50 raise. To a LL, that's more money for them. If you make more, you'll pay more. that's what the "Push To $15 hr" will get a lot of people in 6 months time. Expect those notices to start appearing taped to your door. Or, slid under it, in October. So, you're really not going to make more money per se. You're making more to pay more rent. Good Luck with that.
Okay, maybe I should move to Seattle. Your apartments are still dirt cheap.
@8 that's nonsense
"The poor will certainly be helped by having more choices, says Joel John Roberts, CEO of People Assisting the Homeless in L.A. “Now, when we help people find jobs who are homeless, they typically get minimum-wage jobs, which doesn’t pay market-rate rent.” Arguing that their wages shouldn’t go up is like saying the economy should never grow because that would increase rents, he argues."…
It's almost as if paying everyone a little more just raised the lowest rents.

The only real solutions to affordability are those that add housing. Take a look at the half of our city with a minimum 5,000sf of land requirement and ask yourself who they're trying too keep out (and if it's worked exactly as designed).
Wait, could minimum wage workers EVER afford to live in a one bedroom apartment in downtown Seattle? I don't think so.
Seattle used to be cheaper, but not THAT much cheaper.
Most low income people have lived either in studio apartments or with roommates as long as I can remember.
Of course there is an affordability problem, but insisting in one bedroom for every resident sets the bar too high. We will never get there.
Does this article say anywhere what figures they are using for the average cost of a 1br? Didn’t see that anywhere I could have missed t though.
I'm sure your stats are correct for working minimum wage that it would take you the 69, 86, 87 and 108 hours a week to pay the rent. Assuming, of course, it is a single family income. The only couples I know are both working, and have been for a decade or more. Most people have a partner and both are working these days. Why not take that into account? Unless you think everyone wants to live alone.
@15 -- The problem with that approach is that demand is too high, and supply is too low. It is pretty easy to see places that could build lots of apartments, but don't. On Lake City Way, for example, there is a lot of land used by car lots. For whatever reason, the owners of these lots just don't want to sell. So the only property that does get converted to apartments goes for a fairly high price. When you take those people out of the market (as well as those where it doesn't make financial sense), you simply have very little available land that can add density.

It doesn't have to be this way. In most of the city (by some estimates 2/3), there is land that could easily add density. Much of the time, doing so is extremely cheap. For example, converting a house to an apartment is very cheap. So is subdividing a lot to add another house.

In a lot of neighborhoods, the situation is even simpler, but the rules are ridiculous. An old very big lot with a small house is torn down and replaced with a few huge houses. 5,000 square feet? Try 7,200. That is all they can build. So instead of a small apartment, or a dozen row houses, or a half dozen medium sized detached houses, they build three giant (some would call them monster) houses. That's it. That is all they can build.

There are trade-offs with zoning. Some would hate to live in a city like Tokyo, where people build whatever they hell they want. But it does keep rent prices low, despite the same sort of "back to the city" movement driving up demand in a lot of places (like Seattle).
Please, do us favor. No way you can build 1000 homes, apts or dwellings a month to keep up with the 1000 people moving here every month. We could cut that in half if they are couples. Still, it won't work.
When I was their age, we would work 87 hours, go to sleep, then work another 87 ...and we walked to work 5 miles each way--uphill! These whippersnappers should stop being so lazy and just ,work, work, work all the livelong day!
Very good reporting. HG: pro.
@11, repeat that on Feb. 1st.

Um, not only is is possible to build enough housing for 1000 people per month, we've actually done it before, and quite recently, too:

"There were 8,311 housing units added in Seattle in 2014. Of those 7,538 were multi-family or mixed-use buildings." (according to city construction permitting records)

Yes, that's 8,311 residential buildings. We can very (very!) easily build enough to house the people arriving in this city every year.
@2: I'd much rather you, @23, and all other idiot trolls do that. Problem solved.
@14: Living with mom and dad doesn't count.
@15 I think @19 has this covered, but since you still aren't getting it: Single Family zoning is exclusionary, was created with racist intent, and I don't understand why you're defending it. You can just as easily say that we shouldn't let poor people into half of our grocery stores, and you can tell them you'll change that rule when the other half runs out of food. Did you know that only 14% of our city is zoned for multifamily? And that around *half* of our city's population lives there? Waiting for this 14% to be filled up enough for your liking is pushing people out of our city.

Note I haven't put forward a proposal - I think there are a lot of ways to be more fair and share the city, from allowing row houses to a full rollback to 1920's zoning. But don't look down your nose at those living in 14% of our city and tell multifamily dwellers they have enough and come back when they *really* run out of room.
True story!!!! Employees loosing jobs!!!…

Ah, the tired and discredited "exclusionary zoning" BS talking point. Covenants were certainly exclusionary, but plenty of people/communities of color have lived and continue to live in single family houses - and have moved further and further south in the face of the gentrification encouraged by the likes of you to find it.

This guilty white liberal ain't buying it. How about we quit subsidizing tech companies and giving them upzones and tax incentives to locate here instead?
The article references the cost to affordably rent a 2br in Seattle, which is under $30/hour and therefore is in fact affordable for two minimum wage roommates or a working couple. This is just another in the long line of pitty party articles focused on folks who believe they shouldn't have to get a roommate, notwithstanding that roommates are what people have done for decades up until now. Single parents are the one exception, but they face about a thousand other financial issues if they're only earning minimum wage since day care alone will cost more than they make.

Now the fact that developers are allowed, and in many ways encouraged, by our current zoning rules to build only 1br and "mirco" housing units - all of which comes at extreme costs per/sqft - is a totally separate issue. We are absolutely not building out affordable housing options in terms of 2 and 3 bed room units that make for good affordable roommate shares or family sized housing. But that is a function of the zoning and building code rules that are designed to make millennials happy and developers richer. It has nothing to do with the minimum wage or the debate over single family zoning that is running the comments above.
Sorry service industry workers. Seattle is a desirable city with well paid techies every where you look. Instead of griping about it, figure out a profession that would allow you to live in the city you desire but aren't entitled to reside in and work towards those goals. If you're too lazy to improve your situation I hear rents are affordable in beautiful Tukwila.
@24 That's a point that doesn't get made enough in the ongoing zoning debates. Even if you completely eliminated SFH zoning in Seattle city limits, a significant portion of the city would still be comprised of single family homes on ~6000 sq. ft. lots. It's not like every homeowner in the city is suddenly going to tear down their family home to put up a multi-unit structure intended to house low income residents.

There are an awful lot of people that like living in quiet residential neighborhoods, where they can have a detached home and a small yard. I don't know if anyone's noticed, but people are willing to pay a ton of money for such places.
@33 When you tell working people to get a better job, you're saying that people who work in the service industry deserve to be poor. If everyone got a "better" job, there would be nobody to serve your coffee or ring up your groceries.
Who has an apartment w/o housemates?
@31 "but plenty of people/communities of color have lived and continue to live in single family houses"

But significantly fewer than white people.

Which is why it has a disparate impact.

Which is why it is exclusionary - #math
@35 I brew my own coffee and use the self checkout at QFC.
@33 I was a bartender/server in this town for many years and scraped by but I did make it. Finally, without the condescending and self-righteous attitude of fucks like you I made a career change and got into tech and the rest is history - I make a very good living now. But not once upon this journey did I take the attitude of a worthless fuck like you to beggar my neighbor. When I go out to bars and restaurants I see fucks like you and your attitude towards others all the time, especially those who work in the service industry, who unfortunately have to kiss your pathetic ass. At least I can remember where I came from and have a modicum of decency and am able to display some dignity and respect towards others. Heaven forbid such a spoiled, entitled mama's boy like you could ever demonstrate respect for others, I would bet you never waited a table or worked retail in your life. Go back to your Trump shelter and leave this town!
The city that brought you Starbucks costs too much for a Starbucks barista to live in.

Is the solution to:
A) pass legislation regarding the cost of housing?
B) raise the minimum wage?
C) build more housing and let the free market work it out?
D) automate everything and fuck the poor?
I remember when the monthly rate for my one-bedroom with a single parking garage space in Ballard was $560 (in 1997). $1,800 now?
I don't know how my employees do it then. I have 7, all paid between $10 and $12 an hour. 2 are single parents. Somehow they are managing. One thing I do know- If I had to pay them all $15/hr, I would have to eliminate some of their jobs. They would be unhappy without a job.
The bottom line is: sustainable wages are what afford housing and basic needs--anywhere, not just in Seattle. When the only available housing is luxury condos starting at $2 million a pop, and more and more mom and pop neighborhoods are getting razed for more wealthy homeowners,
the community loses its core and appeal as well as livability.
@42: You have two employees who are single parents? Are they and their children living with relatives? Are they commuting from Renton or Kent? Comparatively speaking, if you offered $15 / hour to all your employees, you would be paying $105 an hour to equally pay everyone working for you. To me, it's sounding like even $15 an hour is not enough to live on in Seattle, anymore.