Affordable Housing: How Are We Doing?

Real Estate Matters
From the Desk of Yvonne Cousar
October 7, 2019

Across the nation, we are experiencing a growing need for affordable housing. The homeless rate is increasing in city after city, year after year. Homelessness affects us all, whether we realize it or not. Communities are resigned to accepting tent cities within their neighborhoods because there is nowhere else for the homeless to go. What then can be done about this situation? We have been taught that for every wrong there is a remedy, right? Is there a remedy for the problem of homelessness and the need for affordable housing, and how soon can we expect some relief?

These are the queries we are faced with on a daily basis. Can this situation be fixed? Is there a remedy at hand? Is this the new norm? And not all homeless are unemployed. Some of the homeless, sleeping in their cars at night, get up in the morning, just as we do, and go to work. The problem is that the salaries they receive are not sufficient enough to pay the spiraling cost of apartment living, let alone home ownership.

Cost of Living in Round Rock, Texas

The cost of living in Round Rock is, on the average, 7% lower than the national. See PayScale.com for more information in the area of expenses vs. income. Unfortunately, this percentage is not stagnant, it will increase annually due to inflation. Therefore, the saying that many of us are just one paycheck away from homelessness may be truer than we think.

Average Rent in Round Rock, Texas

The average rent for a 1 to 2 bedroom apartment in Round Rock is $1,188, a 3% increase compared to the previous year. See statistics at https://www.rentcafe.com/average-rent-market-trends/us/tx/round-rock/. These rental statistics were compiled using data provided by Yardi Matrix, an apartment market intelligence solution which offers comprehensive information on all Round Rock apartment buildings 50 units or larger. Yardi Matrix covers 90% of the U.S. metro area population, including 17 million apartments across more than 130 U.S. markets.

Your monthly rent should be no more than 30% of your gross monthly income. For example, if your monthly salary before taxes is $3,500 ($20 an hour, $42,000 a year), your monthly rent should be no more than $1,050. Of course, it will be necessary to include the amount you pay for utilities, food and other necessities; not to mention debt, credit card or otherwise. Unfortunately, Americans are notorious for charging everything and anything in order to supplement the cost of their lifestyles. With mounting debt, on top of the ever increasing amount of housing expenses, income is not keeping up. The average non-professional individual is earning between $12 to $15 an hour, which explains why most non-professionals end up holding down two jobs.

According to Texas Affiliate of Affordable Housing Providers (TAAHP), in Texas, there are just 30 units available per 100 Extremely Low Income (ELI) renters (according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition 2018 Gap Report). Extremely Low Income is defined as households with income at or below the Poverty Guideline or 30% of AMI, whichever is higher. This statistic, however, doesn’t include the population of Very Low Income and Low Income Households defined as households earning 31% – 80% of Area Median Income. More on this subject can be found by accessing the following link at TAAHP.

How Do We Get to Affordable House From Here?

Affordable Housing has become a growing concern and a major issue for city and state governments. More than half of working Texans are required to spend more than 30% of their income on housing needs. For many, that means they must supplement the amount needed for rent by take away from other necessities, either nutritional or medical needs. Affordable Housing is, therefore, one of the most pressing issues facing not only our generation, but possibly the next generation as well.

For starters, and since knowledge is power, we must stop viewing homelessness as an invisible although tragic occurrence. If we refuse to name the problem, we cannot fix it. We must educate ourselves to this need, and with the help of both government and communities working in tandem, find a viable solution. Solutions invariably start with us.

References:
PayScale.com
RentCafe.com
YardiMatrix.com
TAAHP