A chasm exists between personal care aides’ and nursing assistants’ earned wage and their housing wage, and the shortage of affordable housing for older adults is even worse, according to a new report from  National Low Income Housing Coalition. 

A housing wage is the estimated full-time hourly wage workers must earn to afford a “decent” rental home at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s fair market rent while spending no more than 30% of their income on housing costs. In almost half of the states, a minimum housing wage of $20 per hour is needed to rent even a one-bedroom apartment, NLIHC said.

Personal care aides, nursing assistants and home health aides earn, on average, $13.94 per hour, and the average monthly fair market rent for a one-bedroom or two-bedroom rental home is $1,061 or $1,295, respectively, according to the report.

“Congress should expand access to rental assistance to every eligible household in need. Universal rental assistance could be provided by fully funding the Housing Choice Voucher program,” the report authors wrote. 

For older adults, too, finding affordable housing is often burdensome, according to experts. LeadingAge is calling on Congress to expand the supply of rental housing as infrastructure discussions move along. 

Today is national “call-in” day, where members of LeadingAge and other organizations will be speaking with their representatives to urge them to include increased support for affordable housing for older adults in any infrastructure legislation.

“Congress can’t turn its back on millions of older Americans who are stuck for years on affordable housing waiting lists, living in places they can’t afford, skipping meals and medicine to pay the rent, or cast into homelessness,” LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said in a statement. “Two out of three older adults who need affordable senior housing can’t get it.”