A study on the federal minimum wage illustrates this point clearly. The study, based on a $7.25 hourly wage, found that the average minimum wage workers needs to work 122 hours a week for a modest two-bedroom apartment.
Working 122 hours a week, this means a person would need to earn $884.5 per week, or $3,538 per month for a modest apartment. If a person doesn't meet these minimums, there's not a single state, metropolitan area or county where a person could afford a modest apartment.
Social Security is what many Americans rely on for their retirement. The money made from Social Security was $1,368 on average per month, and if you have earnings that are higher than average, this figure may be higher.
Maximum Social Security benefits top off at $2,687, with the figure changing depending on new laws.
What does this mean in the real world? It means that you'll be barely able to make it, depending on your living situation. If you've paid off your mortgage and only have to worry about utilities, insurance and food, you may be alright.
But if you need to rent an apartment, chances are you won't be able to cut it.
A one-bedroom apartment is cheaper, but still, it's well above the minimum wage worker's salary. A person would need to make $17.90 an hour to afford a one-bedroom apartment in the United States. The study found that minimum wage workers are only able to afford a one-bedroom apartment in 22 of 3,000 counties.
The average worker would need to work 99 hours every week of the year, holding down two full-time jobs and one part-time job, to be able to afford the rent of a one-bedroom.
Social Security beneficiaries will also need to fight for their benefits. If a person becomes disabled, he or she will need to have the case reviewed and accepted. The process can be lengthy, leaving the person without income for weeks or months.
"Individuals can receive expedited processing of their Social Security disability claims if they meet certain criteria set forth by the Social Security Administration (SSA)," writes Moore and Hedges.
What can people do? The only option is to earn more, split the bills or wait for legislators to fight for affordable housing. HUD Secretary Ben Carson announced his proposal to make housing even more difficult, with a proposed tripling in rent for households on federal housing assistance. He also proposes that those that receive assistance pay 35% of their income towards housing rather than 30% that is required now.
Trump's proposed cuts in 2019 would push 200,000 families out of qualification for rental assistance.
Senator Bernie Sanders claims that the rise in affordable housing demands that lawmakers think big and act boldly.
Moving out of state is often unreasonable for many low-wage workers that barely have the money to move across town let alone out of state. Fighting for higher minimum wage and more affordable housing options may be the only option left for workers that need to work nearly 100 hours per week, every week of the year, to pay for a roof over their family's heads.