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KERA's One Crisis Away project focuses on North Texans living on the financial edge.

Texans Spend Too Much On Housing, But Affordable Developments Are Scarce


Texans are struggling to pay for housing, despite the state’s reputation as an affordable place to live. Almost half of renters are spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

Emily Ryder Perlmeter at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is studying the issue. She explores what's behind the numbers, and why it’s so difficult to build affordable developments in North Texas.

Interview Highlights: Emily Ryder Perlmeter…

…On whether income growth has kept up with housing prices: “Income unfortunately has absolutely not kept pace. So, the median sales price of a house has actually increased about 75 percent since 2000. Meanwhile, household incomes across the country in fact have only gone up about 30 percent.”

…On the consequences of spending too much on housing: “When someone is putting too much of their budget toward housing costs, it really leaves them very little room for saving. This can be really asset depleting and we know that asset poverty is a huge issue for North Texas and the state as a whole. You’re also going to have to make some tough choices about your budget. That can include moving out farther from where you work, compromising on important issues such as school districts, quality of healthcare. And when people are really strapped and their budgets really have no room in them, they absolutely have to make some pretty tough calls, so skipping medication for a month that they otherwise might need. It could also mean not paying the electricity bill and just kind of hoping that it won’t get cut off.”

…On why there isn’t enough affordable housing in North Texas: “Developers in North Texas were more likely to report an issue with community opposition. When you’re trying to apply for some federal monies and some federal programs to develop affordable units, you have to typically get a letter of support from your state representative and in order to do that, you typically would have to go to home ownership association groups, to school districts, to get buy in and letters of support from those groups.  And what developers are saying in the North Texas region is that people on average have a very, very negative view of affordable housing. And they really are concerned with what that means for their property values or for their school systems if you were to put in more affordable units. So developers are saying in North Texas primarily, people really lack an understanding of some of the benefits that could come from preserving affordability.”

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.