AUSTIN, Texas (July 15, 2020) — Austin is an expensive place to live, and new research shows just how unaffordable housing has become.
A minimum wage worker in Austin/Travis County would have to work 120 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom apartment at fair market value. To afford a two-bedroom rent, a worker has to earn $26.08 an hour. A person would need to work 3.6 full-time jobs at minimum wage just to be able to pay rent on a two-bedroom house or apartment.
The data was released this week by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. The group publishes its “Out of Reach” report each year, and this year’s numbers show the lack of affordable housing is only getting worse. Last year, the wage required for a two-bedroom in Austin was $25.29 an hour.
The NLIHC report found the state as a whole is not much better. A person needs to make $17.16 an hour to afford a one-bedroom apartment in Texas. The Coalition estimates 3.3 million workers in the state make less than that.
Affordable rent for a minimum wage-earner in Texas is just $377 a month. The average fair market rent for a two-bedroom in Austin is $1,356. This gap between what’s affordable and what’s available has serious consequences. A lack of affordable housing is a key reason people fall into homelessness in our area and across the country.
The report highlights one of ECHO’s findings in the 2020 Point in Time Count that debunks a common myth about homelessness in Austin. Nearly two-thirds (63.4%) of people experiencing homelessness in our community reported Austin as their first location of homelessness. Another 19.4% said they first experienced homelessness somewhere else in Texas. The idea that people are coming from all over the country to live on Austin’s streets is simply not supported by data. Homelessness, sadly, is a home-grown problem.
The best answer to homelessness is housing. An increasingly unaffordable housing market makes that answer harder to find.