Kinder Institute 2021 State of Housing report highlights rental squeeze for lower, middle-income households

The Kinder Institute for Urban Research released its 2021 State of Housing for Harris County and Houston report on June 22. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)
The Kinder Institute for Urban Research released its 2021 State of Housing for Harris County and Houston report on June 22. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Kinder Institute for Urban Research released its 2021 State of Housing for Harris County and Houston report on June 22. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)

As of 2019, one in every 11 renters in Harris County had an eviction notice posted to their door; one in every 25 renter households were also evicted.

That statistic was one of several key points highlighted in the Kinder Institute for Urban Research's 2021 State of Housing in Harris County and Houston report, released on June 22. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, among other sources, the report compares how dozens of key housing indicators shifted in the area between 2018 and 2019.

“One of the big important parts of [the] State of Housing [report] is making neighborhood-level data available to all,” said Luis Guajardo, an urban policy research manager with Kinder, at a June 22 webinar on the report. “This work is aimed at supporting communities to be more effective in the pursuit of equitable outcomes that build better cities and build better lives.”

To help open up that neighborhood-level data, Kinder released a supplementary dashboard alongside the report that includes housing characteristics and neighborhood data accessible through a drop-down menu.

This report marks the second of its kind produced by the Kinder Institute, following an inaugural 2020 report that analyzed data from 2010 to 2018.


The 2021 report contains findings similar to those seen in the previous report, namely that, for higher-income residents and most homeowners, the system is creating large benefits and stability, but lower-income households—especially lower-income renters—are squeezed into unaffordable and often unsafe homes.

As noted by the report, these effects were magnified by the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and Winter Storm Uri. A 2021 Kinder Houston Area Survey, for example, found that an average of 28% of Houstonians had trouble paying for housing over the last year, with 40% of Black households and 37% of Hispanic households facing those troubles.

“There remains some of this concern as the unemployment assistance is set to expire this week on June 26 and the federal eviction moratorium ends on June 30 by the [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], so there could be some lasting effects that go beyond now,” Guajardo said.

Additional key finding from the report include:

  • The affordability gap is shrinking, but not for renters. More renters struggled to enter homeownership in 2019. The overall affordability gap for residents in the county may have slightly shrunk because of lower interest rates, but the gap between the median sales price and median renter household income continued to grow.

  • A growing share of renters has difficulty paying rent on the homes they already live in. Incomes did increase, but they did not increase as fast as rent, which grew around 5% locally. Houston and Harris County renters are more cost-burdened than renters in Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, and those cities’ host counties.

  • Affordable housing supply does not keep up with demand. Harris County lost units with a gross rent of less than $1,000 while the number of units with rents of more than $1,500 continued to grow.

  • Middle-income renters and buyers are increasingly squeezed, too. About one-quarter of rental households in the county earning between $50,000 and $75,000 are cost-burdened, while the majority of renters with a median household income between $35,000 and $50,000 are cost-burdened or severely cost-burdened.

  • Houston is adding households but losing people. American Community Survey data shows Houston is becoming smaller, more childless and wealthier. The survey shows that the city of Houston gained 27,000 households between 2018 and 2019, but actually lost 9,000 residents.

  • Houston and Harris County are becoming older and less diverse. Harris County’s share of retirement-aged people grew in the past year, while the county’s share of people in the ages 20-24 cohort declined. In addition, while the share of Hispanic residents is growing more than any other large ethnic or racial groups in Houston and Harris County, nearly 20,000 Asian Houstonians moved away from the city between 2018-2019. Over that same time, Harris County gained Asian residents. Houston also lost roughly 36,000 foreign-born residents while Harris County gained 8,000.

By Hunter Marrow
Hunter Marrow came to Community Impact Newspaper in January 2020. Before that, Hunter covered local news in Ontario, OR for three years, covering municipal issues, crime, and education across Malheur County and across the border into Idaho.


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