A recent study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition finds that over half of U.S. renter households can’t afford a typical two-bedroom apartment. The group has ranked U.S. cities by affordability as measured by rents and wages in various markets, using the HUD estimated Fair Market Rent (FMR) indexes as a guide. The study captures the gap between wages and rents across the country. Not surprisingly, some of the more expensive housing markets in the U.S. are also some of the least affordable for low income renters. Houston, on the other hand, ranks fairly high on affordability. Even with the recent rise in rental prices, Katy Texas and West Houston still rank pretty high in terms of affordability. This is because median wages have been climbing throughout much of the Lone Star state.
The Texas numbers indicate a Fair Market Rent (FMR) of $867 for a two-bedroom apartment. To achieve that level of rent without exceeding 30% of income on housing, that implies a $2889 monthly income or $34,671 annually. Harris County earns a Fair Housing Wage in 2013 of $18.17. That would be the hourly wage necessary to afford a two-bedroom apartment at FMR. With Area Median Income of $66,200 that equates to an affordable rent of $1655 or 0.9 full-time jobs for a mean renter wage.
Interesting numbers, and good news for area housing affordability.