We all know there is an affordable housing shortage in Dallas. It was an issue illustrated recently with the housing crisis in West Dallas. But how bad is Dallas compared to the rest of the country?
As it turns out, pretty bad. According to a new study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Dallas-Fort Worth is tied for fourth among U.S. urban areas that offer the fewest amount of low income housing units. For every 100 renters, there are only 19 low income housing units available locally. That’s slightly worse than Houston and Orlando, which only has 18 units per 100 renters, and Los Angeles and Las Vegas, which offer 16 and 12 units per 100 renters respectively. At 19 units per 100 renters, DFW is tied with the San Diego and Riverside, CA metro areas.
To be fair, the new report shows that low income housing shortages are a national problem. City Lab reports:
Since the recession, the share of renters has risen to record levels, and so has the extent of rent burdening. A recent study by Gregg Colburn and Ryan Allen at the University of Minnesota found that more than half of U.S. renters were burdened. This includes not just low-income households, but increasingly, middle-income ones. The NLIHC study shows that this trend continues to worsen. Per their analysis, 71 percent of households in extreme poverty are severely rent burdened—that is, they pay more than half their income on rent and utilities.
Think about what that means. For a family bringing in around $1,700 a month, paying $850 in rent leaves another $850 for food, transportation, healthcare, and child care. That’s an impossible budget on which to support a family in most places. According to a recent poll, one in five Americans cut back on essentials like food and health care to make rent.
Housing assistance policies have not caught up to this new reality. Reforming the Low Income Tax Housing Tax Credit, a key program that helps build affordable housing so it better addresses the needs of the most burdened renters, is one recommendation NLIHC makes in the report. Housing advocates also argue that the Mortgage Income Tax Deduction, which is designed to promote homeownership, is ineffective.
You can peruse the full report here. One curious note: most of the cities with the fewest affordable housing units are car-based cities, meaning that the overall burden on low income residents is even more severe when taking transportation costs into consideration.