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New Mexico’s state logo is “The Land of Enchantment,” but new information would suggest “The Land of Unaffordable Housing” would also be appropriate.
According to an Albuquerque Journal report, an analysis of recent National Low Income Housing Coalition by the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness has concluded that New Mexico residents only earning the state’s $7.50 per hour minimum wage are unable to secure affordable rental units in the local housing markets. Fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment that meets U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) quality standards for affordable housing averages at $835 per month; in Bernalillo County, which is home to Albuquerque, the average is $941 per month. A 2015 report from New Mexico Voices for Children determined there were more than 95,000 people in New Mexico who were over the age of 20 and in the minimum wage workforce, with most being heads of households and more than one-third having one or more children.
“What the study tells us is that there is no county anywhere in New Mexico where a 40-hour-a-week minimum wage job gets you any kind of decent housing,” said Hank Hughes, executive director of the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness. “Obviously the minimum wage needs to be higher, probably at least $15 an hour, which gets us close, but we also need more subsidized housing for people who live on fixed incomes and people with disabilities, because a raise in the minimum wage doesn’t really help them [because they are usually not working].”