Saturday, January 2, 2016
Rice study: Houston crosses threshold of housing unaffordability
Houston, long touted for its cheap cost of living, has crossed the threshold of housing unaffordability, according to a new Rice University report. Rice’s Shell Center for Sustainability released its fifth sustainability report, which looked at housing affordability, among other issues like quality of life in Houston. Lester King, a research fellow at the Shell Center, authored the report, which was released Sept. 30. Houston, long touted for its cheap cost of living, has crossed the threshold of housing unaffordability, according to a new Rice University report.
The report found that Houston ranks at No. 26 among major cities nationally for affordable housing and transportation costs. The Bayou City was beaten out by cities like Philadelphia, New York and Chicago that have robust transportation systems and affordable housing along train and bus routes.
Houstonians spend nearly half — or 46 percent — of their median household income on housing and transportation costs. That’s slightly higher than the federal recommendation of spending no more than 45 percent of household income on housing and transportation. Some residents spend as much as 60 percent of their income on housing and transportation costs, according to the Rice report.
National experts also advise that households spend no more than 30 percent of their income on housing alone. However, the percentage of Houstonians who spent more than 30 percent of their incomes on housing increased by almost 50 percent between 1990 and 2010. In 2010, about a third of Houstonians — representing 104,140 households — spent more than the recommended share of their salaries on housing, according to the Rice report.
Homes are the least affordable in the 610 West Loop, including neighborhoods like River Oaks, Memorial, Galleria and Uptown, according to the Rice report. There are pockets of unaffordable housing in other parts of Houston as well, including the Energy Corridor, Bellaire, West University, Greenway Plaza, Upper Kirby and the Museum District, according to the report.
As home prices in the Houston metropolitan area — particularly inside the 610 Loop — have increased by double digits in recent years, home buyers have been forced to look for affordable housing farther and farther away from the city center. That has increased transportation costs for families driving to work downtown, municipalities funding new road construction and companies losing productivity due to traffic congestion.
Source: Paul Takahashi