A majority of Harris County renters are ‘cost burdened’ by rising rent prices, report says

According to the report, nearly 90% of single-parent renter households were spending a good chunk of their income on rent by the end of 2021. 


New Hope Housing, Inc.’s Harrisburg apartments, a complex of 175 affordable housing units in Houston’s East End.

More than half of Harris County renters are “cost burdened” by rising rent prices that are outpacing household incomes, according to a new report by the Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

According to the 2023 State of Housing in Harris County and Houston report, about 51% of renters in Harris County were spending more than 30% of their income on rent in 2021 — a slight increase from 2019, which saw about 48% of renters spending a third of their income on rent.

Additionally, when researchers accounted for other factors like household size and the cost of other essentials like transportation, child care, food and health care, the number of cost-burdened renters in Harris County rose to just above 60%. Furthermore, according to the report, nearly 90% of single-parent renter households throughout the county were cost burdened by the end of 2021.

“One of the big takeaways is that these disparities, they’re not just about housing,” said Stephen Sherman, a research scientist with the Kinder Institute. “It’s also a childcare issue. It’s also about food. It’s also about the job market and how much jobs are paying.”

MORE: Stephen Sherman discusses the report on Houston Matters


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From 2015 to 2021, researchers found the median rent in Harris County had increased by about 29% to $1,164, while median household income among county residents increased by around 23% to $44,686 a year, which breaks down to about $3,724 per month.

The report found that rent increases were more pronounced in neighborhoods like Second Ward and East End, where prices have nearly doubled since 2015. Rent prices also shot up in suburban areas like Tomball, where prices have increased by about 71%, according to the report.

Researchers also examined eviction rates throughout the county, which drastically spiked after the pandemic began. According to the report, about 35,000 evictions were filed in the county in 2020 and 2021. In 2022, the number of eviction filings skyrocketed to 79,627.

The Washington/Memorial Park area saw a 636% increase in eviction filings from 2020 to 2022 — the highest recorded percentage increase throughout Harris County, according to the report. Additionally, the Upper Kirby/Greenway and Minnetex areas saw the highest total number of filings in 2022, with 505 and 536 filed.

“If we’re a city of renters, and a community of renters, we need to think not just about the cost of renting, but also the stability and security of it,” Sherman said. “Whether or not you can get evicted easily. How well built and well maintained is your home or apartment building? These are all really important questions.”

In the fall, the Kinder Institute plans to release an interactive dashboard with additional housing data across Harris County neighborhoods.

Read the full 2023 State of Housing in Harris County and Houston report below:

Lucio Vasquez

Lucio Vasquez

Newscast Producer

Lucio Vasquez is a newscast producer at Houston Public Media, NPR’s affiliate station in Houston, Texas. Over the last two years, he's covered a wide range of topics, from politics and immigration to culture and the arts. Lately, Lucio has focused his reporting primarily on public safety and criminal justice...

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