The lack of affordable housing for low-income households in our state is a crisis that we’ve been fighting to repair for years. The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s latest edition of The Gap report shows that in Texas, this fight has grown to an emergency.
Across the United States, for extremely low-income households, there are 33 units available per every 100 households. In Texas, that number is only 25. This puts us in the bottom 10 states in this country. In metros like Dallas, Austin, and Houston, those numbers plummet to 16, 16, and 19 units available, respectively, per 100 households that need them. In fact, those three cities are in the bottom five metropolitan areas recorded in the report regarding affordable housing availability for ELI renters.
Why Extremely Low Income renters? Well, nearly a quarter of renter households in Texas are Extremely Low Income, And among these 900,000 households, more than 3 quarters of them are severely cost-burdened, meaning they spend more than 50 percent of their income on rent.
To be clear, no state or major metropolitan area has an adequate supply of rental homes affordable and available for extremely low-income renters. However, Texas in general compares poorly to other cities in that we are battling a severe shortage of affordable housing for extremely low-income and very-low income households, while various other states operate rent assistance programs or their own state-funded public housing programs where Texas does not.
At a time where we need more affordable housing, this report shows that it is in fact shrinking. This puts Extremely Low Income and Very Low Income households into the precarious position of becoming more cost burdened, doubling up, or falling into homelessness or living on the street. All while Middle and Above Median Income housing needs are more than met, low-income and below fight for an alarmingly low amount of housing affordable for them.
But there are several things we can do to expand affordable housing in Texas. There is both a budget surplus and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds currently being appropriated at the Texas Legislature and both can be utilized to build affordable housing in Texas. Federally, we need to add significant investments in the national Housing Trust Fund (HTF), to increase appropriations for the Housing Choice Voucher program, and to create an emergency assistance fund that provides direct, short-term financial assistance to tenants would mitigate housing instability and the harms that come with it.
You can read The Gap 2023 below: