Coconino County is worst in state for affordable housing

Photo by Matt Boulton | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Data released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition shows that 41 percent of residents in Coconino County are renters who need to work a minimum of 63 hours a week to afford a studio apartment at the current minimum wage.

NLIHC created the dataset by using a mixture of Census, Housing and Urban Development and Social Security Administration data to see how areas across the state stack up.

The estimated average hourly wage for a person living in Coconino County is $12.77, which is slightly higher than the state’s current minimum wage of $11 an hour. (The data is from 2013-17; in 2016, Flagstaff voters approved increasing the city’s minimum wage to $12 an hour, which took effect in 2017.)

The average wage a renter makes across the state is around $15 an hour, with renters in Maricopa County making the most on average at $18 an hour, according to the data.

A studio apartment in Coconino County averages $898 per month. In neighboring Yavapai County, for just $60 more, renters can afford a two bedroom.


In Coconino, renters make on average $37,000 a year and according to NLIHC. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says that families paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing-related costs are considered cost-burdened and are more likely to face difficulties paying for necessities like food, transportation and clothing.

According to Census data, nearly 60 percent of households in Coconino that rent spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Almost 28 percent spend at least half of their income on rent. Statewide, 48 percent of renting households are below that 30 percent threshold.

Using that standard, the average renter in Coconino can only afford to spend about $926 on rent. The average cost of rentals larger than a studio apartment in the county is more than $1,000.

NLIHC used the data it collected to estimate what salary renters need to afford rent in all 15 counties. In Coconino, in order to afford a three bedroom apartment, a renter would need to be making more than $64,000 a year.

The average yearly income across Coconino County is almost $55,000, according to the United States Census.

For Coconino renters making the state minimum wage of $11 an hour, they need to work at least 63 hours a week to afford a studio apartment. To afford a 1-bedroom rental, they must work 70 hours a week. For 2- and 3-bedroom rentals, minimum wage workers need to work 113 and 136 hours, respectively.

NLIHC’s research also found that, on average, renters in Coconino need to work two minimum wage jobs – if not three – to afford living in the county.

The median gross rent in Coconino County is $1,079, according to Census data.

Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joins the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. Jerod has also won awards for his documentary films which have covered issues such as religious tolerance and surveillance technology used by police. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.


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