As rent prices in Houston and Harris County have outpaced median household income, the majority of renters are finding themselves burdened by housing costs, according to a July 25 report from the Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

The specifics

As of 2021, a majority of renter households were spending over 30% of their household income on housing, which researchers said indicates they faced housing cost burdens. When factoring in household size and essential costs, more than 60% of rental households experienced housing cost burdens.

Montgomery County also has seen an increase in cost-burdened renter households. According to data from Understanding Houston, an initiative led by the Greater Houston Community Foundation, the number of cost-burdened renter households in Montgomery County increased 28% in 2021.

Houston and Harris County have more renters, according to the Kinder report, while neighboring counties, such as Fort Bend and Montgomery, have more homeowners.

In 2021, 58% of Houston households rented homes. These rates are expected to keep rising, with renters likely becoming the majority in the next 20 years, according to the report. On the other hand, Montgomery County has a high homeownership rate, with 72% of households owning their homes.

Diving in deeper

Stating in the Kinder report that "the rent eats first," researchers said rental affordability is not only a factor of the monthly rent costs but also the living costs for the people in that household.

The data shows that rent burdens impact households with children more significantly. About 82% of single-parent households and 73% of two-parent households with children are cost-burdened.

Increases in rent often result in reduced spending on essential needs, such as healthy food, medical care and child care.

Additionally, in car-dependent cities such as Houston, transportation costs can be comparable to housing expenses for some households, making transportation policy crucial for addressing long-term housing challenges, researchers said.