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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: TBD

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.

what the data tell us

In 2013, the percentage of Travis County households who pay more than 30% of their income for housing costs continued to fall from its high point during the recession. From a high of 41% of households in 2010, the percent cost-burdened fell to 36% in 2013, meeting CAN’s target of falling to pre-recession levels. Nevertheless, a higher share of local residents face cost-burdens than people in the state and nation as a whole. In 2013, a higher proportion of Travis County households were cost-burdened than four of the five other major Central urban counties in Texas: Bexar County– San Antonio (32%), El Paso County (32%), Harris County-Houston (33%), and Tarrant County-Fort Worth (30%). Only Dallas County had a comparable rate of 36%.

% of households that are housing cost-burdened

graph showing percentage of households that are cost-burdened Click on graph to view a data table of this information.

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

The lack of affordable housing remains a challenge in the Austin area. According to the 2014 Zandan Poll, affordable housing ranked behind only traffic and population growth as Austinites’ top concerns, with 26% of those polled listing it as their top concern. According to the same poll, 67% of Austinites expressed dissatisfaction with the availability of affordable housing. 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. According to analysis by BBC Research and Consulting on behalf of the City of Austin Neighborhood Housing and Community Development division, Austin has an affordable housing gap of about 48,000 rental units.

The need for affordable rental housing is acute, as CAN analysis of Census Bureau data shows that 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, as Capitol Market Research estimated that Austin’s rental occupancy rate stood at 95.7% in June 2014. Although the occupancy rate has dipped from 96.9% in December 2013, it has consistently remained above 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 the Austin MSA was $240,000 in 2014, about 17% higher than in 2009 when adjusted for inflation. While a benefit to many, rising home values may create barriers for low-income homebuyers and challenges for homeowners facing larger property tax bills.

some local efforts to improve this indicator

a closer look at the story behind the indicator:

Click on one of the titles below for more information.

» % of Households that are Severely Cost Burdened

In 2013, 17% of Travis County households (roughly 73,000 households) were severely cost-burdened. The City of Austin and Travis County both contained a higher rate 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 have a severe cost burden. These working families 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 an adult lack health insurance, and are almost twice as likely to not have a car says 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.

» % of owners and renters that are Cost-Burdened, 2013

Renters are much more likely to be housing cost-burdened than owners. In Travis County 48% of renters are cost-burdened compared to 25% 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.

» 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 Travis County, about 48% of all households were renter households, and in the City of Austin, over half of all households (55%) are 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.

» Housing Cost-Burdened Breakdown by Income Group, by number of households Travis County, 2009 - 2013

In Travis County, based on 2009-2013 data, housing-cost burdened households largely have low-incomes. Of all housing cost-burdened households, 81% make less than $50,000 per year, and 70% of households who earn less than $50,000 per year are burdened by housing costs. Of the 35,250 households who earn between $10,000 and $19,000 per year, 91% spend more than 30% of their income on housing costs (or between $3,000 and $6,000 per year spent on housing costs). About a fifth (21%) of all households in Travis County are non-cost burdened homeowners who make $100,000/year or more. Only 6% of owner households and 2% of renter households earning $100,000 per year or more spend more than 30% of income on housing.

Definition: Number of households in each income category by cost-burdened status. ’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

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 2013, 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, wit 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 tend to be found outside of Central Austin, whereas cost-burdened households tend to be concentrated more centrally.

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.

vulnerable populations