Report: More Than Half of Harris County Households Cost-Burdened

Using a measurement that takes into account more factors in addition to housing costs, a new report from the Kinder Institute for Urban Research sheds light on the true crisis facing Houston-area renters.

2 minute read

July 31, 2023, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Houston, Texas

Roschetzky Photography / Shutterstock

The Kinder Institute for Urban Research’s Stephen Averill Sherman describes the growing crisis facing renters in Harris County, home to the city of Houston, as presented in the Institute’s State of Housing report.

As Sherman explains, “Despite the importance of understanding rentals, researchers lack data on what renting truly costs. No single organization keeps track of lease terms, as leases are individual contracts between landlords and tenants. We don’t know the true inventory or location of every rental unit; we can only make estimates through other sources.”

The report aims to fill some of these gaps in information for Harris County. “This year’s State of Housing report elucidates how high rents mean stretched budgets: 51% of county rental households are cost-burdened, meaning that they are paying more than 30% of their monthly income on rent.”

Because the traditional 30 percent definition of ‘cost burden’ doesn’t take into account other expenses or different family sizes, the researchers developed a more comprehensive measurement that “takes into account the rising costs of food, transportation, child care and other non-housing essential costs.” Based on this measure, the report concludes that 60 percent of Harris County households are cost-burdened. “Renting families are particularly stressed: While only 55% of Harris County’s single-person rental households are estimated to be rent-burdened, 73% of two-parent households with children and 88% of single-parent households are rent-burdened.”

The report also includes information on landlords and property ownership, building quality and livability, and more. See the source article for more details and a link to the full report.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023 in Rice Kinder Institute for Urban Research: The Urban Edge

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