Home affordability in Houston and Harris County see sharp decline, new report shows

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Friday, June 21, 2024
Home affordability in Houston, Harris County see sharp decline: Report
Homeownership in Houston and Harris County is going from historically affordable to out of reach for so many people, according to a new report.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Kinder Institute's State of Housing survey released Thursday shows that home ownership in Houston is increasingly out of reach for many residents, despite the Bayou City's long-standing reputation as one of the nation's most affordable metropolises to own a home.

The fifth annual survey measures trends in the region over the past five years and shows the housing affordability gap worsening. Home prices in Harris County have quadrupled since 2018, up 43%, and yet purchasing power for a median-income household has only risen by 1.2%.

Only seven neighborhoods in Harris County are considered affordable to purchase a home based on the county's median household income of about $71,000: Kashmere Gardens, Pleasantville, South Park, Gulfgate Riverview/Pine Valley, Galena Park, Eastex/Jensen, and Denver Harbor/Port of Houston. According to the report, even a household earning $100,000 a year could not afford to buy a median-priced home in the majority of neighborhoods.

Potential homeowners seem to be looking outside of Harris County. This year, the Kinder Institute surveyed Fort Bend and Montgomery counties for the first time and found that those two counties added virtually the same number of homeowners as Harris County despite having only 1/3 of the population.

'The result of us not doing anything is that our very strong workforce, our hard-working Houstonians that work for our major corporations and industries within Harris County, are driving and living within other counties that are more affordable. They're actually taking their paychecks and their revenues away from Harris County. Our economy depends on an affordable housing plan," Allison Hay, chief executive officer of Houston Habitat for Humanity, said.

In all three counties, Hispanic households are increasing their proportion of homeowners. But the city of Houston and Harris County have proportionately fewer Black homeowners than they did five years ago. Despite the county adding 17,000 new Black homeowner households, the city of Houston experienced a loss of Black homeowners.

Houston, though, is still better positioned than many cities in an affordable housing crisis plaguing the nation. The affordability gap is three times less than in Austin and 40% less than in Dallas.

"We really do believe that Houston is uniquely positioned to confront its affordability challenges given that it is starting from a better place than some urban areas," Kinder Institute Director Ruth N. López Turley said. "Housing is a core area of research for us given that it affects so many aspects of our lives, from education to health and economic mobility."

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