Valley Tops List of Housing Cost Growth

This week the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) released “Out Of Reach,” a side-by-side comparison of wages and rents in the United States.  The report includes a tool to generate local summaries of the status of renters. Below are NLIHC’s summaries of the State of Texas and Starr County, as well as a map of housing wages in the US as a whole. (The Housing Wage represents the hourly wage that a household must earn in order to afford the area Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom unit.)

Starr County had the highest growth rate of housing costs (rent and utilities) of any county outside of urban New England last year, and is one of the least affordable locales in the state.  NLIHC calculated only 21% of Starr county renters can afford the rent needed to obtain modest privately owned, decent, and safe rental housing in that area.

The Status of Texas Renters:

In Texas, the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment is $830. In order to afford this level of rent and utilities, without paying more than 30% of income on housing, a household must earn $2,768 monthly or $33,214 annually. Assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year, this level of income translates into a Housing Wage of $15.97.

In Texas, a minimum wage worker earns an hourly wage of $7.25. In order to afford the FMR for a two-bedroom apartment, a minimum wage earner must work 88 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. Or, a household must include 2.2 minimum wage earner(s) working 40 hours per week year-round in order to make the two bedroom FMR affordable.

In Texas, the estimated mean (average) wage for a renter is $14.36 an hour. In order to afford the FMR for a two-bedroom apartment at this wage, a renter must work 44 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. Or, working 40 hours per week year-round, a household must include 1.1 worker(s) earning the mean renter wage in order to make the two-bedroom FMR affordable.

Monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments for an individual are $674 in Texas. If SSI represents an individual’s sole source of income, $202 in monthly rent is affordable, while the FMR for a one-bedroom is $684.

The Status of Starr County Renters:

In Starr County, the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment is $595. In order to afford this level of rent and utilities, without paying more than 30% of income on housing, a household must earn $1,983 monthly or $23,800 annually. Assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year, this level of income translates into a Housing Wage of $11.44.

In Starr County, a minimum wage worker earns an hourly wage of $7.25. In order to afford the FMR for a two-bedroom apartment, a minimum wage earner must work 63 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. Or, a household must include 1.6 minimum wage earner(s) working 40 hours per week year-round in order to make the two bedroom FMR affordable.

In Starr County, the estimated mean (average) wage for a renter is $5.43 an hour. In order to afford the FMR for a two-bedroom apartment at this wage, a renter must work 84 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. Or, working 40 hours per week year-round, a household must include 2.1 worker(s) earning the mean renter wage in order to make the two-bedroom FMR affordable.

Monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments for an individual are $674 in Starr County. If SSI represents an individual’s sole source of income, $202 in monthly rent is affordable, while the FMR for a one-bedroom is $538.

National Housing Wage Map: