OPINION: We cannot allow the gap between the wages and the cost of living to get too large.

There is a housing problem for the working poor.

The working poor is someone who works but cannot afford all living expenses, because the gap between minimum wage and affordable living is too great. One-quarter of the homeless population is employed; a person would need to make $21.21 on average to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment.

Additionally, 14.3 million people in the United States in 2018 could not provide enough food for all members of their household. That is at a rate of 11.1% of the population.

There are multiple ways the government has attempted to assist the working poor.

irst, the government over the decades has regularly increased the minimum wage in hopes of elevating some out of poverty. Unfortunately, this is not the solution to the social problem because the minimum wage also increases rent for tenants thus causing the housing to be unaffordable for people who are already struggling.

A program to help combat this increase in rents is the United States Housing Act of 1937, generally known as low-income housing. One problem with low-income housing is there is often a waitlist, sometimes a few years long. Another growing problem is low-income housing is becoming unaffordable.

Two ways to improve the United States Housing Act to make living more affordable for the working poor are through deregulation and the expansion of employment outside of cities. First, an increase in the number of affordable housing units by deregulating zoning would help fulfill the demand for housing. Not all regulations need to be removed; some are in place for safety and size restrictions on apartments. However, there are regulations that hinder building affordable housing, and thus they can not keep up with demand.

Second, low-income housing can be built in rural areas to lower its affordability for those who are need of it. If we allowed people to work from home, this would enable people to live in rural areas where the price of rent is cheaper. Low-income housing in metropolitan areas is expensive, but this is generally where most of the work is located. Not only would allowing people to work from home lower the rent, but it would lower living expenses. People would save on transportation, time and ultimately, childcare.

We cannot allow the gap between the wages and the cost of living to get too large, or very few people will be able to afford a home. This would substantially increase the working poor population.

Brittany Robitaille-Muffler is a Tigard resident.

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