A report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) found that Hawaii has the most expensive rental housing in the nation.

The 2015 Housing Wage report says that Hawaii residents need a $31.61 hourly wage to rent a two bedroom unit.

That is in sharp contrast to the average renter wage of $14.49 per hour. That equates to a $17.12 per hour gap between the average renter wage and the two bedroom housing wage.

The national hourly wage needed to rent a two bedroom unit was $19.35. That is more than 2.5 times the federal minimum wage, and $4 more than the estimated average wage of renters nationwide.

The wages cited above are an estimate of the full time hourly wage that a household needs to earn to afford a 2 bedroom unit that is less than 30% of their total income.

“In Hawaii, the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two bedroom apartment is $1,644. In order to afford this level of rent and utilities – without paying more than 30% of income on housing – a household must earn $5,479 monthly or $65,746 annually.”

The goals of NLIHC are to “preserve existing federally assisted homes and housing resources, expand the supply of low income housing, and establish housing stability as the primary purpose of federal low income housing policy.”

In order to highlight this, NLIHC measures the number of hours an individual earning minimum wage would need to work to pay for the two bedroom unit. Hawaii currently has a minimum wage of $7.75 per hour. This would mean a minimum wage earner would have to work 125 hours to afford Fair Market Rent for a two bedroom apartment.

Even Hawaii’s counties, metropolitan, and non-metropolitan, rank high compared to the rest of the U.S.

On the county level, Honolulu ranks fourth behind just the California counties of Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo.

As for metropolitan areas, Honolulu ranks third behind San Francisco and Stamford-Norwalk, CT.

For non-metropolitan areas, Hawaii ranks second behind Massachusetts.Hawaii Counties (2-Bedroom Housing Wage):

  • HONOLULU COUNTY* $34.81
  • MAUI COUNTY $24.31
  • KAUAI COUNTY $23.50
  • HAWAII COUNTY $22.13

*50th percentile FMR area

The NLIHC found that many renters in Hawaii are extremely low income (ELI), and that there is a deficit of rental units both affordable and available to that demographic. ELI is defined as earning

less than 30% of the Area Median Income (AMI). In Hawaii, ELI are earning less that $25,394 annually.

42 percent of households (190,501 units) in the state are renters and about 19% of them are extremely low income.