Making minimum wage doesn't pay the rent in Alabama

Making minimum wage doesn't pay the rent in Alabama
(Source: WBRC Video)

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The cost of living has some in Birmingham worried. Frankly, if you make minimum wage, you can't afford living in the Magic City - or anywhere else in America.

The average cost of a two-bedroom apartment in Birmingham is $762 a month, which would require you to make $14.65 to live comfortably, Kelleigh Gamble, executive director of Neighborhood Housing Services of Alabama, said.

That cost is more than double Alabama's minimum wage rate $7.25 and Gamble says that can make it tough for working families.

"If more than a third of your take home pay is going strictly towards rent, what happens when your car breaks down? What happens if you have to pay your car note, insurance, grocery, utilities?" she said.

About one third of those who live in Birmingham rent. A big part of that is due to a big push in neighborhood revitalization in recent years.

"You're seeing areas that are being redeveloped, like your Crestwood, Avondale, Woodlawn, you'll see the rent is going up higher in those areas because the market can sustain those," Gamble said. "The Birmingham market offers some opportunities for working class families, but the working class families really have to do some digging in order to identify those opportunities."

Gamble points to organizations like his and others that offer some affordable units or classes to help families with their budgets.

"We're at a point where hopefully the conversation can continue to elevate that minimum wage so that working class families will be able to afford where they can live. They will be able to provide a higher quality of living for their children which is all parents want to do.  They'll be able to have some savings. They'll be able to have some cushion," he said.

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