New study shows 3 in 4 poor Texas families spend more than half of income for rent

Brace yourself for more bad news about the crisis in affordable rental housing for the poor in Texas.

This study shows Texas 7th worst among the 50 states in availability of affordable rental housing for extremely low income households. As a result more than 3 in 4 of the poorest families in Texas pay more than half of their income for rent.

Jointly released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and Texas Low income Housing Information Service, Housing Spotlight: The Shrinking Supply of Affordable Housing, shows that in Texas, there are only 26 rental homes both affordable and available to renter households considered extremely low income, that is, earning 30% or less of the area median income. Nationally, the data show that while there are 9.8 million extremely low income renter households, there are only 3 million rental homes affordable and available to them, leaving 6.8 million American households without access to decent housing they can afford. While no state in the nation has an adequate supply of affordable, available rental housing, Texas is among the worst.

This gap is more than numbers on paper. This is families in Texas sleeping on couches, skipping meals, living one illness away from total disaster. It’s a recipe for homelessness. This housing shortage compares in scale and impact to the foreclosure crisis but does receive nearly the attention.

While the affordable rental housing shortage itself is dire, there are available solutions. In Texas, better targeting of Low Income Housing Tax Credits to produce more rental housing affordable to truly poor families. as would an expansion of the Texas Housing Trust Fund which suffered severe cuts during the 2011 session of the Texas Legislature.

At the federal level, the solution lies in funding the National Housing Trust Fund, which would provide communities with funds to build, preserve, and rehabilitate rental homes that are affordable for those households impacted by the affordable housing shortage. Signed into law in 2008, the National Housing Trust Fund has not yet been funded. President Obama included $1 billion for the National Housing Trust Fund in his FY13 budget.

“Solving the shortage of affordable rental housing is the most important homelessness prevention measure we can undertake,” said Sheila Crowley, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “Investing in the National Housing Trust Fund is our best chance of ensuring affordable housing for all Americans.”

The full report is available below.