Rental Housing Prices Remain Out of Reach for Many Texans

July 14, 2017 | by Michael Wilt

Categories: Affordable Housing, Rental Housing
Tags: national low income housing coalition, out of reach

The National Low Income Housing Coalition recently released its annual "Out of Reach" report, which calculates the hourly wage a household needs to earn to afford a modest market rate apartment. The report calls this figure the Housing Wage.

In Texas, the Housing Wage is $18.38/hour which amounts to $3,186 monthly and $38,234 annually. That is what a household must earn to afford the state's average fair market rent of $956 for a two-bedroom apartment without being cost burdened (spend less than 30% of income on housing costs.)

The good news is that comparatively speaking, housing costs in Texas are lower than the national average rent of $1,103 for a two-bedroom apartment. The bad news is that the average renter in Texas only earns $17.89/hour which means the average rent is out of reach for many households.

We last covered the "Out of Reach" report in a 2015 blog entry. Then, Texas' Housing Wage stood at $16.62/hour and increased to $17.60 in 2016. This is a worrisome trend that reflects escalating housing costs. 

In order to afford rising housing costs, Texas families earning less than the Housing Wage often have to work more than 40 hours a week, get other jobs which means less time at home with family, or cut back on other necessities like food, transportation and health care costs.

Here are other key findings from the report:

  • 38% of Texans are renters. That's 3,455,426 households.
     
  • Texas' most expensive rental markets may surprise you. Midland is the most expensive with a Housing Wage of $29.23 needed to afford the average rent of $1,520. Odessa is next with a Housing Wage of $25.29, followed by Austin-Round Rock at $22.98, Kendall County at $21.27 and Jeff Davis County at $20.62. 
     
  • Minimum wage workers must work 101 hours a week -- the equivalent of 2.5 full-time jobs -- to afford a fair market rate two-bedroom apartment. Minimum wage workers must work 80 hours a week to afford a fair market rate one-bedroom apartment.
     
  • The rental amount that is affordable to a minimum wage worker is $377 and well below the average fair market rate of $956 for a two-bedroom apartment.

We encourage you to read the "Out of Reach" report for more information including detailed data on wages and housing costs for every state, metropolitan area and county.

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