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Housing Cost-Burdened

vision
status = worse

Our basic needs are met.

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

38% 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: 36% by 2017

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

The percentage of households in Travis County that are housing cost-burdened decreased for the second year in a row in 2012, but is still higher than pre-recession levels and is also higher than the state and the nation. In 2012, 38% of Travis County households (nearly 157,000 households) were cost-burdened.

% 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 number of renter households in Travis County has generally increased since 2005. This is a bit concerning as renter households are much more likely to be housing cost-burdened than owner households (49% for renters compared to 28% for owners). As the number of renter households has been increasing so have the occupancy rates of renter units. According to Capital Market Research, Austin’s rental market had an occupancy rate of 97% in June of 2013 and rental rates increased in all parts of the city during the first half of 2013. Single family housing costs have also increased. The Texas A&M University Real Estate Center reports the median sales price of a home in the Austin MSA was $222,400 in 2013, about 20% higher than in 2009.

The City of Austin Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department reports that federal funding levels for affordable housing have fallen 40% from 2008-09 to 2012-2013. In spite of this, Austin has continued to support a continuum of housing programs to increase affordability, largely thanks to general obligation bonds approved by Austin voters in 2006. That funding has now been committed or spent. Although, a proposition for $70 million in new general obligation bond funding was rejected by voters in 2012, voters approved a $65 million bond pack in November 2013. The process for distributing the funds will be determined in 2014. Place-based planning efforts across the community have also worked to plan for affordable housing in mixed-income communities.

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 2012, 18% of Travis County households (roughly 76,000 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, 2012

Renters are much more likely to be housing cost-burdened than owners. In Travis County 49% of renters are cost-burdened compared to 28% 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 households that are cost-burdened in the five county metropolitan statistical area

In 2011, the highest concentrations of housing cost-burdened households were located centrally in the 5-county Metropolitan Statistical Area, particularly in Travis and Hays Counties. Neighborhoods with the highest concentrations of cost-burdened residents are located in Central and East Austin.

map showing the percentages of households that are cost-burdened in the five county metropolitan statistical area Click on graph to view a data table with percentages of cost-burdened households in each of the 5 counties in the region.

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. Shapefiles from CAPCOG and U.S. Census Bureau.

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

turning the curve

The Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan, the Downtown Austin Plan, and NHCD’s FY2009-2014 Consolidated Plan, and Travis County’s Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice recommend that the availability of units affordable to people with very low or low incomes be expanded through a variety of methods such as affordable housing incentives for developers or preservation of existing affordable housing units.

Travis County's Consolidated Plan & Action Plan and NHCD’s FY2009-2014 Consolidated Plan recommend increasing the affordability of owner housing by providing homebuyer assistance for low to moderate income households.