On January 30, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University released their biennial America’s Rental Housing report. The report shows that it has become harder than ever for middle-income Americans to pay the rent. According to the report, households with incomes of $75,000 and above accounted for more than three-quarters of the growth in renters (3.2 million) from 2010 to 2018. This shift has significantly altered the profile of the typical renter household and, nationwide, a growing number of renters with incomes between $30,000 and $75,000 are now cost-burdened (i.e. paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing). Even more alarmingly, a majority of lowest-income renters spend more than half of their monthly income on housing. Not surprisingly, these conditions have also led to increases in homelessness, particularly in high-cost states.

For Texas, where the number of cost-burdened renters and owners steadily increases, the market for affordable housing, particularly deeply affordable housing, continues to go unmet. According to the report, “in 2008, 1.3 million Texas households that rent were moderately or severely cost burdened. By 2018, that number rose to 1.7 million.” Yet, since the Great Recession, new housing construction has been to accommodate high-income residents. In addition to the dwindling supply of affordable housing units, factors contributing to this trend, as stated in the report, include high construction and labor costs, affordability constraints for residents, outside of housing costs, and pricing and financing constraints in the single-family market. With high population growth, internally and externally, expected in Texas over the next decade, the need for greater supply of housing, both in types of and in income variant units, is one of the primary challenges facing our society to support sustainable, family-friend communities.

To introduce this study, JCHS held a webcast to discuss the report and reflect on how the rental market has changed over the last decade. Watch here.