search the site  

White line
 
 
 
 

Housing Cost-Burdened

vision
status = better

Our basic needs are met.

We live in affordable and stable housing with
access to open space and public amenities.

36% of Travis County households are cost-burdened

Indicator: Percentage of Travis County households that are "cost burdened" (pay 30% or more of income for housing)

Goal: Decrease the percentage of households that are cost-burdened

Target: 33% by 2020

Key Trends: The total number of households in Travis County that were housing cost-burdened steadily declined from 2010 to 2013, but increased slightly in 2014. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) considers a household to be “cost-burdened” when they pay more than 30% of total income on housing costs. The five year trend is “better” since Travis County’s post-recession peak of 41% in 2010, but issues remain as an additional 4,000 households were considered cost-burdened from 2013 to 2014 alone. An estimated 159,548 households spent more then 30% of their income on housing expenses in 2014, a reflection of Austin’s escalating issues with housing affordability.

what the data tell us

In 2014, 36% of Travis County households spent more than 30% of their income on housing costs, falling short of reaching CAN’s community target of 33% by 2020. Although the housing cost-burdened indicator has improved since its post-recession peak in 2010, a higher share of local residents face cost-burdens than people in the state and nation as a whole. In 2014, a higher proportion of Travis County households were cost-burdened than four of the five other major urban counties in Texas: Bexar County– San Antonio (33%), El Paso County (32%), Harris County-Houston (33%), and Tarrant County-Fort Worth (32%). Only Dallas County had a comparable rate of 36%.

Definition: % of households where monthly rent (plus utility and/or housing fuel costs) or mortgage payments (or other housing debt costs) equal 30% of more of a household’s monthly income

Data Source: American Community Survey, 1 Year Estimates

Data Considerations: The American Community Survey samples 3% of the Nation’s population. Due to small sample sizes, margins of error are increased and hard to reach populations may not be accurately represented in the data.

the story behind the indicator

Decreasing affordability and an overall lack of affordable housing remain significant challenges for the Austin area. According to the 2015 Zandan Poll, affordability is a growing concern for Austinites, and 86% of those polled felt that Austin was at risk of losing its appeal due to the rising cost of living. Overall, 50% of those polled listed affordable housing as one of the three most important problems facing Austin today, falling second only to traffic and transportation at 82%. Despite a decrease in the share of households that are burdened by housing costs since the height of the recession, Austin continues to face a shortage of affordable housing. The City of Austin Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department released the 2014 Comprehensive Housing Market Analysis, which found that Austin has an affordable housing gap of about 48,000 rental units.

The need for affordable rental housing is especially great in Travis County, as CAN analysis of Census Bureau data shows, nearly half of renters are cost-burdened, compared to about a quarter of homeowners. The tightness of Austin’s housing market likely has a strong influence on these gaps, Capitol Market Research estimated that Austin’s rental occupancy rate stood at 94.5% in December 2015. Although the occupancy rate dipped from 96.9% in December 2013, it has consistently remained around 95% in recent years. Despite lower rates of cost-burdened, homeowners and potential homebuyers faced challenges as well. The Texas A&M University Real Estate Center reports the median sales price of a home in Travis County in 2015 was $298,926, about 30% higher than in 2011 when adjusted for inflation. While a benefit to some, rising home values may create barriers for low-income homebuyers and challenges for homeowners facing larger property tax bills.

The lack of affordable housing options has drawn low-income residents away from the urban core. While they might find less expensive housing, they may also encounter geographic isolation and poor access to transportation, employment, services and educational opportunities.

Significance of Indicator: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development states that housing is “affordable” if no more than 30% of a household’s monthly income is needed for rent, mortgage payments and utilities. Households that are cost-burdened may have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation, and medical care.

a closer look

Click on one of the titles below for more information.

» % of owners & renters that are Housing Cost-Burdened

Renters are much more likely to be housing cost-burdened than owners. In Travis County 48% of renters are cost-burdened compared to 26% of owners.

Definition: Percent of households where monthly rent (plus utility and/or housing fuel costs) or mortgage payments (or other housing debt costs) equal 30% of more of a household’s monthly income

Data Source: American Community Survey, 1 Year Estimates

Data Considerations: The American Community Survey samples 3% of the Nation’s population. Due to small sample sizes, margins of error are increased and hard to reach populations may not be accurately represented in the data.

» # of renters that are Cost-Burdened & Severely Cost-Burdened by Income Level

Low-income renters are most impacted. According to census data, 86% of renter households earning less than $35,000 a year are housing cost-burdened. As the graph below shows, many of these households are “severely cost-burdened,” meaning they pay more than half their total income for housing costs.

Definition: Number of households in each income category by tenure (renter/owner). ’Cost-Burdened’ refers to households in which monthly rent (plus utility and/or housing fuel costs) or mortgage payments (or other housing debt costs) equal 30% of more of a household’s monthly income. “Severely Cost-Burdened” households pay more than 50% of income for housing.

Data Source: American Community Survey, 5 Year Estimates 2010 –2014

Data Considerations: The American Community Survey samples 3% of the Nation’s population. Due to small sample sizes, margins of error are increased and hard to reach populations may not be accurately represented in the data.

» % of Households that are severely cost-burdened

In 2014, 16% of Travis County households (roughly 72,000 households) paid more than half of their total income for housing. The City of Austin and Travis County both had higher rates of severely cost-burdened households than the metro area, state, and nation. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development households spending 50% or more on housing are severely cost burdened. These households are 23% more likely than those paying less for housing to encounter difficulties purchasing food, are 28% more likely to have either a child or adult lack health insurance, and are almost twice as likely to not have a car, according to the Center for Housing Policy.

Definition: Percent of households where monthly rent (plus utility and/or housing fuel costs) or mortgage payments (or other housing debt costs) equal 50% of more of a household’s monthly income

Data Source: American Community Survey, 1 Year Estimates

Data Considerations: The American Community Survey samples 3% of the Nation’s population. Due to small sample sizes, margins of error are increased and hard to reach populations may not be accurately represented in the data.

» renter households as a percent of total households

Locally, a higher percentage of households are renter households than in the state and the nation. In 2014, about 47% of all Travis County households were renter households, and in the City of Austin, over half of all households (55%) were renters. For local areas, the share of renter households has increased slightly since 2007.

Definition: Percent of total households that are renter households

Data Source: American Community Survey, 1 Year Estimates

Data Considerations: The American Community Survey samples 3% of the Nation’s population. Due to small sample sizes, margins of error are increased and hard to reach populations may not be accurately represented in the data.

» Percent of Households Spending 30% or more of Income on Housing Costs by Census Tract, Austin MSA, 2009-2013, ACS, 5-Year Data

In 2014, the highest concentrations of housing cost-burdened households were located centrally in the 5-county Metropolitan Statistical Area, largely extending through the eastern portions of Williamson, Travis, and Hays Counties. Neighborhoods with the highest concentrations of cost-burdened residents are located in Central and East Austin, with the heaviest concentrations found on the eastern border of the City of Austin and into southeastern Travis County.

Definition: Percent of households in a Census Tract where monthly rent (plus utility and/or housing fuel costs) or mortgage payments (or other housing debt costs) equal 30% of more of a household’s monthly income

Data Source: Data is from the American Community Survey, 5-Year Estimates.

Data Considerations: The American Community Survey samples 3% of the Nation’s population. Due to small sample sizes, margins of error are increased and hard to reach populations may not be accurately represented in the data. This issue becomes particularly acute when considering small geographic areas, such as the Census Tracts shown here.

» Percent of Households Spending 50% or more of Income on Housing Costs by Census Tract, Austin MSA, 2009-2013, ACS, 5-Year Data

Neighborhoods in which a high percentage of residents spend more than half of their income on housing costs (severe cost-burdened households) do not strictly align with neighborhoods in which a high percentage of residents spend more than 30% of income on housing (cost-burdened households). Concentrations of severely cost-burdened households are spread throughout the metro area , though many are found in Central Austin.

Definition: Percent of households in a Census Tract where monthly rent (plus utility and/or housing fuel costs) or mortgage payments (or other housing debt costs) equal 50% of more of a household’s monthly income

Data Source: Data is from the American Community Survey, 5-Year Estimates.

Data Considerations: The American Community Survey samples 3% of the Nation’s population. Due to small sample sizes, margins of error are increased and hard to reach populations may not be accurately represented in the data. This issue becomes particularly acute when considering small geographic areas, such as the Census Tracts shown here.

collaborative initiatives, organizations and plans

data and reports

vulnerable populations