Report: More Than Half of Harris County Households Cost-Burdened

Using a measurement that takes into account more factors in addition to housing costs, a new report from the Kinder Institute for Urban Research sheds light on the true crisis facing Houston-area renters.

2 minute read

July 31, 2023, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Houston, Texas

Roschetzky Photography / Shutterstock

The Kinder Institute for Urban Research’s Stephen Averill Sherman describes the growing crisis facing renters in Harris County, home to the city of Houston, as presented in the Institute’s State of Housing report.

As Sherman explains, “Despite the importance of understanding rentals, researchers lack data on what renting truly costs. No single organization keeps track of lease terms, as leases are individual contracts between landlords and tenants. We don’t know the true inventory or location of every rental unit; we can only make estimates through other sources.”

The report aims to fill some of these gaps in information for Harris County. “This year’s State of Housing report elucidates how high rents mean stretched budgets: 51% of county rental households are cost-burdened, meaning that they are paying more than 30% of their monthly income on rent.”

Because the traditional 30 percent definition of ‘cost burden’ doesn’t take into account other expenses or different family sizes, the researchers developed a more comprehensive measurement that “takes into account the rising costs of food, transportation, child care and other non-housing essential costs.” Based on this measure, the report concludes that 60 percent of Harris County households are cost-burdened. “Renting families are particularly stressed: While only 55% of Harris County’s single-person rental households are estimated to be rent-burdened, 73% of two-parent households with children and 88% of single-parent households are rent-burdened.”

The report also includes information on landlords and property ownership, building quality and livability, and more. See the source article for more details and a link to the full report.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023 in Rice Kinder Institute for Urban Research: The Urban Edge

Aerial view of homes on beach in Maui, Hawaii

Hawaii Passes First Legislation Regulating Short-Term Rentals Statewide

The new law will give counties the power to limit number or short-term rentals and convert existing short-term rental units back into long-term residential housing.

May 13, 2024 - USA Today

Google office building in Virginia.

Virginia Data Centers Draining State’s Water Supply

Being the world’s largest data center hub is having a severe impact on local water resources.

May 9, 2024 - Grist

Entrance to a drive-through car wash at night with green 'Enter' sign.

Ohio Towns Move to Ban New Car Washes

City officials in northeast Ohio are putting limits on how many car wash facilities can open in their towns.

May 16, 2024 - News 5 Cleveland

Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state.

Northwest Power Demand Could Surge as Data Centers, Transportation Electrification Ramps Up

New estimates project a steady increase in electricity demand due to population growth, data centers, and the shift to electric power in homes, buildings, and transportation.

May 17 - Governing

Blurred traffic speeding by on freeway with Los Angeles skyline in background.

California Testing Per-Mile Gas Tax Alternatives

A summer pilot program will test the fairness and efficacy of collection mechanisms for mileage-based fee options.

May 17 - Newsweek

Close-up of 'Pay rent' note in red marker on day 1 of monthly calendar.

After Months of Decreases, Rents Nationwide Are Going Up

Average rents rose by $12 around the country so far this year.

May 17 - Smart Cities Dive

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.