Looking for a two-bedroom apartment here? You need to make $23 an hour


Report: Renters must earn more than 3 times the minimum wage to afford a typical Austin two-bedroom apartment.

The Austin metro area was among the top 3 most expensive areas in the state.

Renters must earn at least $22.98 an hour — more than three times the minimum wage — to afford a typical two-bedroom apartment in the Austin area, a recent report reveals.

The report, released this month by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, studied the wages needed to afford rental housing throughout the country and uncovered broad disparities, shedding light on an ever present issue afflicting Austin.

“It validates what we already know, but it’s also showing that the affordability crisis is not limited to Austin,” said Isabelle Headrick, board member of the organization that produced the study and executive director of Accessible Housing Austin, a nonprofit that helps people with disabilities find housing. “It’s in every city in the country.”

NEWS STRAIGHT TO YOUR INBOX: Click here to get our Morning Headlines email

The report found that in no state, even those where the minimum wage is above the federal level of $7.25 an hour, can someone earning the minimum wage while working a 40-hour work week afford a two-bedroom rental.

Authors of the report defined affordable as spending 30 percent or less of gross income on rent and utilities. They used the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s “fair market rent” rates to derive housing costs based on housing data from the American Community Survey, the ongoing statistical survey by the U.S. Census Bureau. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics was used to measure wages.

The Austin metro area was among the most expensive areas in the state, outpaced only by Midland’s metro fair market area ($29.23 per hour needed) and the Odessa metropolitan area ($25.29 per hour needed).

The study says the fair market rent this year for a two-bedroom apartment in the Austin area is $1,195 a month. The annual income needed to afford that unit is $47,800, assuming 30 percent of the income goes to housing costs.

Another way to look at rental costs in Austin: Someone making the minimum wage would need to work 3.2 jobs to afford a two-bedroom apartment, while someone making the average renter’s wage would need to work 1.2 jobs.

RELATED: Austin renters face soaring costs in ‘extraordinary market’

Texas ranked 22nd most expensive among all states, with an income of $18.38 per hour needed to afford a two-bedroom. Nationally, the figure is $21.21 per hour.

Austin and Travis County leaders have been tackling the affordability issue from various angles. Local officials unveiled a comprehensive new regional workforce training plan last month that aims to help people afford housing by providing job training that will eventually boost salaries.

The city also approved a strategic housing blueprint in April that calls for building an additional 135,000 housing units by 2025.

Headrick said the results of the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s study are in line with what she sees day to day at her organization, which constantly receives calls from people living in substandard housing or looking for housing after being displaced due to rental rates jumping higher than they could afford.

She pointed to CodeNext, the Austin’s massive zoning code rewrite, as a possible opportunity for the city to make progress on fixing its housing shortage problem and applauded Austin voters for supporting the city’s 2013 affordable housing bond.

Commentary: CodeNext can be Austin affordability’s biggest ally

At the same time, she said, the Legislature and federal government have hamstrung affordable housing efforts.

“It would be really great if the state of Texas would get out of our way,” Headrick said. “There’s so many tools out there that we could be using, that we could have been using by now.”

For example, she cited state laws passed that ban the use of construction fees levied for the purpose of raising funds for affordable housing and that allow landlords to discriminate against applicants who plan to pay part of their rent with federal housing vouchers.

Headrick also lamented President Donald Trump’s proposed fiscal 2018 budget, which would cut HUD’s funding by $6.2 billion. If passed, she said, more than 250,000 people could lose their housing vouchers and many other housing programs could be hampered.

The Trump administration has proposed major cuts in domestic spending to pay for a boost in defense spending. A HUD budget document has called for “a greater role for state and local governments and the private sector in addressing community development and affordable housing needs.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Texas family's Christmas light show pays tribute to Selena
Texas family's Christmas light show pays tribute to Selena

A Texas family is paying tribute to the late singer Selena with a light show set to one of her songs, WFAA reported. Beto Hinojosa of Boerne has been doing light shows in front of his home for four years. This year, he decided to add the Selena song, “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom.” Hinojosa, a principal in the Boerne school district, said he...
Sarah Palin's oldest son arrested on domestic violence charges
Sarah Palin's oldest son arrested on domestic violence charges

Track Palin, the oldest son of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, was arraigned Sunday on domestic violence charges, according to online court records. Palin was arraigned on charges of felony burglary, assault in the fourth degree and criminal mischief for causing property damage in Wasilla, Alaska, according to court records. The criminal mischief charge...
California father continues Christmas tradition to honor late daughter
California father continues Christmas tradition to honor late daughter

For 19 years, a California man has decorated his home for Christmas and has invited community members to visit. The holiday display is a tribute to a daughter he lost in a plane crash. Bob Taylor oldest daughter died in the plane crash. “She loved Christmas,” Taylor told KRON. ” I mean, that was her favorite time of the year...
Sen. John McCain will miss tax bill vote
Sen. John McCain will miss tax bill vote

Sen. John McCain will not be in Washington when Congress votes on the Republican tax bill this week, CNN reported Sunday. The Arizona Republican returned to his home state Sunday to continue recovering from the side effects of chemotherapy for a brain tumor, two sources confirmed to CNN. The senator’s daughter, Meghan McCain, confirmed in...
Four-legged 'Santa' a savior during Battle of the Bulge
Four-legged 'Santa' a savior during Battle of the Bulge

Tucked between dollar bills, nestled next to a black-and-white photograph of his wife Gloria, Stan Saltz pulls out a second snapshot, the one of him as a 19-year-old Army private and survivor of the bloodiest battle in the second World War. But the photo isn’t about the Florida resident. It’s about the German shepherd, a four-legged...
More Stories