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How much must individuals earn to afford a decent home in the Columbus area?

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

The National Low Income Housing Coalition recently released a study revealing how much one individual needs to earn on average in order to afford a decent apartment or rental home in several places, including Muscogee County, Russell County and other surrounding counties.

The report stated that individuals should make $11.44 in Muscogee County and Russell County to live in a decent one or two bedroom home.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor website, the federal minimum wage for covered nonexempt employees is $7.25 per hour.

While some people say making about 11 dollars an hour is not enough for them to live in a one-bedroom, Dr. Alan Tidwell with Columbus State University said it's reasonable.

"My calculations show that if you earn $11.44, then that equals to about making $1,976 per month," Dr. Tidwell said. "If you earn that much, then getting an apartment that cost about $500 per month should be achieved. It is reasonable."

Tidwell said a person making about $11 an hour while working about 40 hours a week would be making a yearly salary of about 23,000 dollars.

In addition, Anthony Smith with Coldwell Banker Kennon, Parker, Duncan & Davis real estate said individuals can afford to live in a decent, satisfactory one or two bedroom home in Columbus and Phenix City.

"Keep in mind that my definition of decent may be different from other people's definition of decent," Smith said. "I consider apartments and homes located in areas with low crimes to be decent. People making about 11 dollars an hour can afford to live in safe places like that."

Smith added that Phenix City residents can get a little more for their money compared to people living in Columbus.

"Phenix City is starting to do really well, especially with the Fort Mitchell area," Smith said. "However, I think economic development was a little behind Columbus few years ago. So I think the living prices in Phenix City is a little bit cheaper. You could make less than 11 dollars an hour, and still get a decent place in Phenix City."

Tidwell also mentioned that residents in Phenix City and Columbus are starting make big purchases by buying houses. For the past few years, majority of the residents were renting.

"I think Columbus has a pretty robust rental market," Tidwell said. "The Chattahoochee Valley has all types of rental properties available. There has been a big push for luxurious apartments, and older ones are available for cheaper prices. We live in a military town, and we have people come and go all the time. I think that is why many rent, because they aren't sure if they are going to stick around or not. But many are starting to buy houses again."

"It's a great time to buy houses," Smith agreed. "Interest rates are low, and other factors are encouraging people to buy homes. I think buying homes helps the local economy. It puts the money back into the city."

To see the list of average wage for an individual should earn to live in a one or two bedroom apartments or rental homes, visit the website: http://nlihc.org/oor/2014

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