The affordability gap in Harris County has grown 275% since 2018, with the median home price growing from $220,000 to $315,000, according to a June 20 report from the Kinder Institute.

The report, released annually by the Kinder Institute and named the 2024 State of Housing in Harris County and Houston, revealed while home prices have increased, buying power has not, with the majority of households unable to earn $100,000 per year.

In 2023, the affordability gap in Harris County was $126,468, according to the report. In 2018, the affordability gap was about $33,744, according to the June 20 report.

“We keep finding new ways of saying, ‘Look folks, housing is becoming more expensive, and it’s becoming more unaffordable,’” said Daniel Potter, senior director of research at the Kinder Institute, at a June 20 presentation of the report.

The breakdown

Houston had smaller affordability gaps than other central cities of metro areas closest to Houston’s population—Dallas, Austin, Chicago and Atlanta—according to the report. Only San Antonio had a smaller affordability gap than Houston. Harris County had the smallest affordability gap of all central urban counties. The affordability gaps for U.S. cities similar to Houston in population are:

  • Austin: $355,600
  • Atlanta: $203,565
  • Dallas: $146,761
  • Chicago: $126,423
  • Houston: $106,567
  • San Antonio: $74,506

Although Houston is relatively more affordable than other major cities in the U.S., it still ranks second-worst in the country for providing affordable housing options, according to a March report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

There are 33,000 affordable and available places to rent for more than 217,000 extremely low-income renters in the Houston area, according to the report.
“We have to fix the housing problem,” said Mike Nichols, director of community development and housing for the city of Houston, during the June 20 presentation. “In other countries and in other cities around the world, they’re doing a better job. ... We can [achieve very little homelessness and adequate housing] if we focus on the housing and make sure there’s adequate funding, which there’s not at this time.”

Diving in deeper

Fort Bend and Montgomery counties’ homeowner households increased 58% and 48% since 2010, respectively, compared to a 20% increase since 2010 in Harris County, according to the June 20 report.


Allison Hay, CEO of Habitat for Humanity in Houston, said the lack of affordable housing in Harris County is driving folks to surrounding counties like Fort Bend and Montgomery counties.

“They're actually taking their paychecks and their other revenue away from Harris County,” Hay said in the June 20 presentation.

Homeownership across all three of those counties is diversifying, with 150,000 Hispanic homeowners and 37,000 Black homeowners added from 2010-22, according to the report.

Quote of note

“We can be the most affordable city in America, and I'm ready to do it,” said Christa Stoneham, CEO and president of Houston Land Bank, at the June 20 presentation.

Learn more

The full report and its presentation can be found on the Kinder Institute's website.