Stamford-Norwalk rental market called the nation’s most expensive

The Stamford-Norwalk area is the most expensive rental housing market in the nation, requiring a $72,000 household income to afford a typical monthly rent of $1,800, according to study released Wednesday.

According to an annual report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a renter in those two lower Fairfield County cities would need to earn $34.62 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

Connecticut was rated as the sixth least-affordable state for rental housing, requiring a “housing wage” of $23 an hour to afford a typical two-bedroom apartment at a monthly rent of $1,196.

The “housing wage” is the amount a renter would have to earn to afford an apartment without spending more than 30 percent of household income on housing costs.

Statewide, a renter would need an annual household income of $47,843 to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

The Connecticut Housing Coalition said in an accompanying statement that 337 of the state’s 683 occupations listed by the state labor department do not, on average, provide an income sufficient to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

Those occupations include bus drivers, computer operators, construction laborers, EMTs, food service workers, machinists, mental health counselors, nursing aides, pre-school teachers, police and fire dispatchers, retail salespersons, reporters, secretaries and tellers.

The Danbury market was the 2nd most expensive in the state and 8th most expensive in the nation, requiring a housing wage of $30.60 an house to afford a monthly rent of $1,591.

Other housing markets in Connecticut and their required housing wages: Hartford, $21.06; New Haven, $22.71; Bridgeport, $24.67; New London, $19.54; and Waterbury, $18.21.

The release of the report was coordinated in with the Connecticut Housing Coalition, which said the data is reason to oppose further cuts in social services.

“While families are struggling to pay the rent, some of them on the brink of homelessness, our state officials are cutting their lifelines,” said Jeffrey Freiser, executive director of the coalition.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell has cut over $2 million from housing and homelessness services at the Connecticut Department of Social Services in this fiscal year.

The deficit mitigation plan approved last week cut $1 million of affordable housing financing from the state’s Community Investment Account.

“It is unconscionable that we are harming families with children, seniors and people with disabilities, while the very wealthy are laughing all the way to the bank,” Freiser said. “If we eliminated the sales tax exemption for yacht repairs, we could restore all the housing cuts.”

An appendix explaining the sources and methodology used in the annual study can be viewed here.