Texas Housers’ release of 2022 San Antonio District Renter Profiles show unique challenges for tenants in SA

Texas Housers has released its 2022 Renter Profiles, sorted by City Council district, providing a picture of all that it means to be a renter in San Antonio. These profiles use data collected by the American Community Survey to track metrics such as the average rental median household income, levels of education for renter head of households, and access to (or lack thereof) basic living amenities such as plumbing and kitchen facilities in rental households. 

By compiling this data into the 2022 Renter Profiles, Texas Housers intends to provide a snapshot of the conditions in which renters live and the potential challenges they may face. Many of the important conversations around housing in San Antonio treat renters and homeowners as one entity, but it is important to recognize the unique differences that renters live with. 

Methodology

Data for these profiles was collected from the most recently available Census Data, using the American Community Survey 5 year estimates (2016 – 2020). Certain numbers, such as the totals of public housing units, Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher units, and tax credit units per district, come from Opportunity Home data (previously known as the San Antonio Housing Authority) for the first two and TDHCA data for the latter. These numbers are all updated as of 2022, since that is the most recently available data. District boundaries used for these profiles are the City Council Districts for the year 2022 and do not reflect the redistricting changes that will take effect in January of 2023. 

The Cost of Renting

While these profiles are primarily intended to help inform San Antonians about the challenges that tenants face in the city, it is also important to call attention to certain quality of life differences for those who rent across the area. In every San Antonio council district, renters are making less than their homeowner counterparts. In some districts, the gap between owner and renter average median household income is severe with owners earning double what renters earn.

Additionally, these profiles highlight a dire reality for all San Antonio renters: in every district, almost half of the renter population is labeled as “cost burdened”, meaning these individuals and families are spending more than 30% of their income on housing. When households are forced to spend more than the 30% threshold on housing, difficult choices arise between paying the rent, feeding the family, accessing child care or paying medical bills[1]. It is also noteworthy that the number of units in San Antonio that are affordable and available for those making the minimum wage is decreasing rapidly. In our Decade of Renting profile you’ll note that the percentage of housing stock that is available for those at the lowest income bracket continues to shrink, while median rent trends upwards. This is a local reflection of national trends that have noted that the average individual would have to work 102 hours per week to afford a modest 1 bedroom apartment in San Antonio[2]. 

A Picture of San Antonio’s Subsidized Units

One area of encouragement – every city council district is seeing an increase in their total number of tax credit units. These units provide stable, secure and affordable places for folks to call home. The increase of these units serve as a vital lifeline for many low income families. That being said, San Antonio’s total number of public housing units has been steadily declining as well as the number of Section 8 Housing Choice vouchers in use. 

Our city faces a widening housing gap where fewer and fewer units are available to folks with the lowest incomes. It is also important to note that these subsidized units are not spread equally across all parts of San Antonio. Districts 8, 9 and 10 combined are home to just 10% of the city’s tax credit units, while District 5 and District 1 combined have 60% of San Antonio’s public housing units. If we want to move towards a San Antonio that works for us all, we must expand housing opportunities to all areas of the city. These profiles show that a few of the council districts hold the majority of these subsidized units; this does not create an environment of choice where families of all income levels have the right to choose where to live in a neighborhood that makes the most sense for them. 

Texas Housers encourages readers to use these profiles as a launching pad for advocacy around renters issues in addition to the broader housing crisis. When we are equipped with data that allows us to better understand the environment that surrounds us, we can empower each other to speak out and challenge the systems in place. 

  1. “Defining Housing Affordability,” HUD User, https://www.huduser.gov/portal/pdredge/pdr-edge-featd-article-081417.html#:~:text=Keeping%20housing%20costs%20below%2030,to%20be%20housing%20cost%20burdened.
  2. Out Of Reach 2022, NLIHC, https://nlihc.org/oor/state/tx

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