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


Highlights

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

City of Austin declares Oct. 20 ‘Tom Petty Day’
City of Austin declares Oct. 20 ‘Tom Petty Day’

The City of Austin, by way of a proclamation by Mayor Steve Adler, has named Oct. 20 “Tom Petty Day,” KVUE reports.  The day, this Friday, would have marked the singer’s 67th birthday.  Below is the text of the proclamation issued by Adler: Petty died earlier this month after suffering a cardiac arrest. The city was...
Father of man accused of killing 6-year-old calls son 'gentle giant'
Father of man accused of killing 6-year-old calls son 'gentle giant'

The father of the 19-year-old man who is accused of killing 6-year-old Dayvid Pakko and leaving his body in a dumpster in Lynnwood, Washington, spoke from Texas on Tuesday. Randy Henckel said he is grieving the death of his grandson, Dayvid, and trying to make sense of the arrest of his son, Andrew Henckel, in connection with it. Andrew Henckel, who...
Police searching for man they have linked to several East Austin robberies
Police searching for man they have linked to several East Austin robberies

Police are asking for the public’s help in finding a man they say committed at least seven robberies of East Austin convenience stores from Sept. 27 through Monday. According to Austin police, the man hit the Fighting Orange store at 3807 North Interstate 35 three separate times. First on Sept. 25, then again on Oct. 5 and Oct. 16. He also robbed...
Judge denies Jerry Sandusky's request for new sex abuse trial
Judge denies Jerry Sandusky's request for new sex abuse trial

A Pennsylvania judge has denied former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s request for a new trial. Judge John Foradora issued the order and an opinion on Sandusky's Post Conviction Relief Act appeal Wednesday afternoon. Sandusky argued that he did not receive adequate representation by his lawyers during the trial and that prosecutors...
Community news: Fosters needed for larger dogs

TRAVIS COUNTY EAST AUSTIN Fosters needed for larger dogs The Austin Animal Center, at 7201 Levander Loop, Building A, is in need of temporary foster homes for large and medium dogs. The time period needed is about two weeks. When space becomes minimal, the center relies on help from the community to save animals. Events including slower summer adoptions...
More Stories