BY THE NUMBERS: Housing Affordability

BY THE NUMBERS: Housing Affordability

Raul Alvarez
March 13, 2019

BY THE NUMBERS: Housing Affordability

Data on Income, Home Values and Rents Suggest That Housing Affordability Worsened from 2013 to 2017.

The Travis County Snapshot from the 2017 American Community Survey (ACS) was recently completed by staff in the Research and Planning Division at Travis County Health and Human Services.  The Research & Planning Division conducts an annual analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.  The information is a point-in-time “snapshot” of our community and includes social, economic, and housing characteristics related to human services.  You can view and download the report online at:

The previous blog post highlighted some trends pertaining to seniors. This post draws from the Travis County’s 2017 ACS Snapshot to outline a few data points relating to affordability. We’ll start by considering median income in Travis County. The chart below shows that the Median Income in Travis County increased by 15% from 2013 to 2017.  Median Income in Travis County increased at a higher rate than Texas and the U.S.

In the five year period from 2013 to 2017 we see not only a dramatic increase in individuals who earn greater than three times the poverty level but also a significant increase in in home values and rents. Travis County’s reported median home value for owner-occupied housing units increased from $238,712 in 2013  to $321,400 in 2017, an increase of 38%. Austin’s median home value of $321,400 is much higher than the median home value for the state ($172,200) and the U.S. ($217,600).

Similarly, Austin’s median contract rent experienced a significant increase. The 2013 median contract rent was $869 compared to a median contract rent of $1120 in 2017, a 29% increase during the five year period. Austin’s median contract rent of $1120 is higher than the median contract rent for Texas ($843) and U.S. ($868).

The fact that increases in median home values and median rents are outpacing the increase in median income suggests that the affordability challenges for Travis County residents continue to mount and that a continued focus by local leaders and community members on expanding affordability is still warranted.