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Renter Households Struggling with Affordability

By Urban Reform Staff | Oct 15, 2019


Despite low unemployment rates, increasing wages, and one of the longest U.S. economic expansions, nearly half of renters are still struggling with the costs of housing.

According to new data from the Census American Survey, half of renters in the country are considered “cost-burdened” meaning their housing costs eat up more than 30 percent of their income.

For the first time since 2014, the share of cost-burdened renters increased on the national level from 49.5 percent to 49.7 percent.

Similarly, Houston’s share of cost-burdened renters increased, though slightly lower than the national level, from 48.4 percent in 2017 to 49.3 percent in 2018, making the Houston area the 48th cost-burdened area out of the 100 largest metro areas. Miami topped the list with 62.7 percent of its renters being cost-burdened.

In Houston, of the nearly half of renters who are considered cost-burdened, 24.5 percent of the households are considered “severely” cost-burdened and 24.8 percent is considered “moderately” cost-burdened.

Nationally, the share of moderately cost-burdened renters came in at 24.9 percent while severely cost-burdened renters, those spending at least half of their income on rent, came in at 24.8 percent.

The data also shows that the median rent has steadily grown faster than the median income.

The only metros in which the median renter can comfortably afford the median rent is in Dallas, Phoenix, Charlotte, San Francisco, and Minneapolis. Most of these are known for their affordability, but the reason San Francisco is included is because it boasts some of the best job opportunities that allow for renters to afford the median rent.

Despite the marginal increase in the Houston area, renters in other major metro areas have it worse. According to the report, nearly one in three cost-burdened renters live in California, New York, or Florida.

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