OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — A recent report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition says rental prices across the country are unreachable, and Nebraska and Omaha are no exception.
Nebraska’s minimum wage is $9 an hour. According to the report, at that pay, you would have to work 75 hours a week to realistically afford to rent the average two-bedroom home.
In Omaha, the price is even higher at 84 hours a week.
Even for the average renter who makes over $14 per hour in Nebraska and $15 in Omaha, they’d still have to work an extra day each week to realistically afford that rent.
Erin Feichtinger with Together Omaha says they see a lot of families struggle with high rent prices. Last year they helped nearly 3,000 families stay in their home.
“The people that we work with have jobs. That job just does not pay enough, they don’t have enough hours, their hours are cut, they’re too flexible, and so people get behind on their rent," Feichtinger said.
She says many of the places that are affordable for the average person aren’t safe.
“Just imagine what it would be like to wake up and get ready for a job when the bathroom ceiling is falling in, when the toilet is falling off the foundation," Feichtinger said. "Imagine what it's like for children who are dealing with mold or lead. And we know that that's linked to asthma, to respiratory infections. What happens when you have cockroach infestations that make it difficult to keep your food safe, that make it difficult for you to sleep?"
She believes Omaha needs to prioritize developing affordable housing.
“If we don’t do anything proactive to address this shortage, it’s only going to get worse," Feichtinger said.
Right now there is a pause on evictions until October 3, but Feichtinger says they’re still seeing tenants taken to court. This week the Tenant Assistance project launched in Douglas County which has lawyers volunteering at eviction court.
“The goal really is to just make sure everyone has the money to stay in their homes, and that we can avoid an eviction that will follow you around for the rest of your housing search," Feichtinger said.
A new ballot campaign introduced this week aims to raise the minimum wage in Nebraska to $15/hour.
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