Worst Case Rental Housing Needs in the Houston MSA

In the Houston metropolitan area in 1998, the most recent year for which data are available from the American Housing Survey, 67,500 households had "worst case" needs for rental housing assistance. These estimates do not include the homeless.

Households are considered to have worst case needs for housing assistance when they:

  • are renters with incomes below 50 percent of area median income (which, in Houston, was $25,200 for a four-person household in 1998);
  • either pay over half their income for rent or live in severely inadequate housing; and
  • are not assisted by Federal, state, or local housing assistance programs.

In the Houston area:

  • those with worst-case needs are 12 percent of renters and 5 percent of all households. Some 43 percent of the eligible unassisted very-low-income renters have worst case needs. In 1997, 52 percent of eligible renters in the U.S., and 46 percent of eligible renters in the South, had worst case needs.
  • 31,900 of the 67,500 households with worst case needs are families with children, and at least 9,900 other households have elderly or disabled members.
  • 75 percent of the worst case heads of household that are not elderly or disabled are working.
  • 61 percent of the worst case households are minorities.
  • 65,300 are paying over half their income for rent, while 4,300 live in severely inadequate housing.
  • fully 74 percent of those with worst case needs live in adequate, uncrowded housing, with severe rent burden as their only housing problem.
  • most - 79 percent - of those with worst case needs have incomes below 30 percent of area median income, which in 1998 was $15,100 per year for a four-person household.

The Houston area had very severe shortages of housing affordable to renters with incomes below 30 percent of median. In 1998, for every 100 renter households with these "extremely low" incomes, there were only 62 units they could afford. And since many of these units were occupied by higher-income renters, only 31 units were both affordable and available for every 100 extremely-low-income renters.

Preliminary HUD analysis of the Houston housing market, which will be redone because of boundary changes, shows that between 1998 and 1991, the year of the previous AHS survey:

  • the number of households with worst case needs rose by 4 percent.
  • the number of renters with incomes below 30 percent of area median rose by 12 percent, while the number of units affordable to them remained fell by 30 percent.
  • the shortage of housing affordable to extremely-low-income renters worsened markedly, falling from 118 to only 62 units for every 100 renters.


Content Archived: December 13, 2009