There’s something sobering about statistics, and the stats out of Harvard’s “State Of The Nation’s Housing” report, which was released last week, is especially effective at bringing the numbers home—literally.
The report explores the stats on housing costs, home ownership, rental availability, and more, both in Texas and throughout the nation. But the numbers out of Texas are pretty brutal. The Austin Business Journal explored some of those numbers, and the news is rough for, well, for a lot of Texans, but especially for those in places like College Station, Laredo, and San Angelo:
In College Station about 44 percent of all households are burdened by housing costs that exceed 30 percent of income, and 28 percent are burdened by housing costs that exceed 50 percent of income. Those numbers are 43 percent and 23 percent, respectively, in Laredo.
Those are awful numbers, for sure—paying more than half of your monthly income in rent or mortgage is a heck of a burden, and the fact that roughly a quarter of Texans in those cities are experiencing said burden tightens the economy for everyone.
Things are a bit easier in Austin, though, where the number of people spending more than half their income in housing costs is a still-not-insignificant seventeen percent. But Austin’s soaring housing costs have been well-documented for several years now, even as the numbers continue to go up. Less ink, meanwhile, has been spent on cities without, say, a growing tech industry to help explain the boom.
Those numbers are worse for renters than for homeowners, as well, no matter where you’re looking. The Laredo and College Station figures cited by the Business Journal are combined numbers for both, but when you isolate it to just those who rent, the story gets worse:
In Austin, 49 percent of all renters are spending more than 30 percent of their monthly income on rent and about 26 percent are spending more than 50 percent on rent. Again, the numbers are worse in College Station and Laredo. In fact, Laredo is the sixth worst metro area in the country for renters with 63 percent of tenants shelling out more than 30 percent of their monthly income for rent and nearly 35 percent paying more than 50 percent each month.
Renters have it rough in other parts of the state, too—more than half of all renters in Lubbock, Beaumont, McAllen, and Hill Country micro areas like Fredericksburg and Kerrville pay at least thirty percent of their income in rent, and nearly a third of them spend more than half on it. Homeownership numbers across the state aren’t nearly as bad, though that doesn’t hold true nationally—homeowners in Southern California and South Florida experience similar burdens to the worst of the Texas renters. This suggests that homeownership, in Texas, is a better deal than renting, in the end—which is true everywhere, but especially, it appears, right here.