Jul 26, 2023 - News

Majority of Houston, Harris County renters are cost-burdened

Illustration of a house with a long arrow-shaped shadow pointing upwards.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

The majority of Harris County renters are cost-burdened by rising rents that are outpacing household incomes, according to a new report by Rice University's Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

Driving the news: About 51% of renters in the area in 2021 spent more than 30% of their income on housing costs, meaning they're considered cost-burdened under federal standards, per the new 2023 State of Housing in Harris County and Houston report.

  • This report follows May's 2023 Kinder Houston Area Survey, in which 20% of county residents cited housing costs as the biggest problem facing the region.

Why it matters: Increased rents mean less money will be allocated toward healthy food options, medical care, child care and other expenditures, per the report.

By the numbers: From 2015 to 2021, median rent in Harris County increased 28.5% to $1,164, while median household income rose only 23.4% to about $44,686 a year.

  • Some neighborhoods and suburbs saw more drastic increases, like Second Ward (99.4%), East Downtown (90.8%) and Tomball Southwest (71.1%), per the report.
  • Plus: One in five rental structures in Houston and Harris County was graded as being in “below-average” condition by the Harris Central Appraisal District.

Meanwhile, researchers also looked at eviction rates throughout Harris County, which have surged since the pandemic.

  • About 35,000 evictions were filed in the county in 2020 and 2021.
  • In 2022, the number of eviction filings skyrocketed to about 80,000 after national moratoriums on evictions ended in August 2021, per the report.

The intrigue: Eviction filing rates tended to be higher in communities with higher concentrations of properties owned by institutional investors.

The bottom line: Renters, who are disproportionately people of color and tend to be younger adults, are facing challenging times with rising costs and eviction rates, as well as subpar rental spaces, per the report.

  • The report also emphasizes the need for improving and maintaining higher standards of rental properties in Houston and Harris County.

What's next: In the fall, the Kinder Institute will release an interactive dashboard with additional housing data across Harris County neighborhoods, and in September there will be a webinar regarding the state of housing.


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