Houston-Area Flood Insurance Costs Eat Into Region's Affordability

A reorganization of FEMA’s flood insurance program will mean increases in insurance costs for coastal homeowners.

2 minute read

June 14, 2023, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Prices for flood insurance in Harris County, a third of which lies in a floodplain, could go up by as much as 75 percent according to FEMA data, writes Muizz Akhtar in the Kinder Institute for Urban Research’s Urban Edge.

“These costs, along with rising costs like homeowners insurance, may further contribute to Houston, long known for its housing affordability, no longer being able to deliver on that promise.”

Houston has long faced an annual hurricane season, but flooding is becoming worse and more unpredictable even as developers continue to build in areas prone to floods and pass on the risk to homeowners. Homes in coastal areas have often been insured under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), “which the U.S. government created in 1968 after most private insurers gave up on providing such coverage.” Now, a restructuring of the NFIP could lead to a doubling of average flood insurance rates, putting it out of reach for many households.

“It remains to be seen how this new risk pricing for the NFIP will play out in terms of housing affordability, development and land use patterns, but one thing is clear from this year's Kinder Houston Area Survey: More people desire a more coordinated approach to planning the region.” In the survey, 80 percent of respondents said the region needs better land-use planning for future development.

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