The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) announced the findings of its annual report, Out of Reach: The High Cost of Housing 2020, and the results are cause for concern among housing advocates.

The report, conducted since 1989, compares rents and wages nationally, at the state and county level and in metropolitan market areas. Prior to 2020, the gap between market housing costs and wages was striking. But Out of Reach in 2020 demonstrates a growing chasm between household income levels and housing costs, exacerbated by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The results show that in Illinois, the hourly wage to afford a two-bedroom rental is $21.30. While working at Illinois’ current minimum wage of $10/hour, it would require 72 hours of work per week to afford a one-bedroom rental. In the Chicago area, the hourly wage to afford a two-bedroom rental is $24, which tops the list for Illinois’ highest cost market. Springfield’s wage is a bit more modest at $15.42 and in the Metro-East area (St. Louis HMFA) the wage is $17.40. The study confirms what REALTORS® know to be true: there is a stunning lack of housing inventory forcing upward pressure on rents.

Illinois REALTORS® is an outspoken advocate for government policies that encourage new housing construction and much-needed relief to this price pressure. One of the most effective ways to control costs is by adding supply, but in many markets around Illinois, local zoning, building codes and rental regulations have limited new construction at any price point lower than high-end. Added government costs to housing construction – which can be tens of thousands of dollars – cannot be absorbed into the price of lower-cost housing units.

Illinois Afford ReportThe NLIHC’s full report and an interactive U.S. map of the report results can be accessed at

For Illinois REALTORS® detailed policy prescriptions for how to lower the cost of housing construction you can read the RVOICE publication, Working to Make Building and Zoning Code More Affordable for Housing (member login required). 

Use your knowledge of affordable housing to help consumers achieve the American Dream of homeownership. Members can login and access a variety of downloadable fliers about housing from Illinois REALTORS®.