Study highlights strong connection between housing prices and people’s health

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — We’ve all heard you shouldn’t spend more than 30 percent of your income on housing. That includes utilities for renters and property taxes for homeowners.

Here in Central Texas, according to the Texas Affiliation of Affordable Housing Providers (TAAHP), a third of us spend more than that recommended max.

“In Austin in general, rent is extremely high,” said Jessica Campos. “It’s very hard to find an apartment that’s in your budget.”

Campos recently moved into an apartment in north Austin. The Bridge offers units for families making 60 percent of Austin’s median income

According to TAAHP, that’s $42,000 a year, and people in that income bracket should pay no more than $1,050 per month on housing. 

Eighty percent of the area’s median income is $56,000, and for families earning that amount every year, it’s recommended they spend less than $1,400 per month on housing. 

Campos said before she found the affordable unit in north Austin, “I remember when I just had my first son, I struggled.”

She’s now a little less stressed about her expenses, which include paying for a nurse to help take care of her son who has special needs. 

However, the County Health Rankings study found recently one in five Central Texans reports having severe problems with housings costs. 

“What’s happening over time is it’s crowding out other things in their lives. Their healthcare costs. Their transportation costs. The cost of higher ed for their children,” said Roger Arriaga, TAAHP’s Executive Director.

The study found 15 percent of Travis County residents don’t have health insurance. That number’s higher, at 21 percent, for Bastrop County. In Hays County, 16 percent don’t have health insurance. 

Arriaga explained, “They’re watching every last dollar to make ends meet, their health care tends to be one of the first things that goes.”

He also added, “This problem is getting worse across the entire state. We’re seeing these issues in our major metropolitan areas, but we’re also seeing in our rural areas, too.”

Campos wishes more families could find apartments like hers. “Luckily I was able to find this place. I’m happy where I am,” she said.

Arriaga said one way to solve the problem is to add more supply.

“Get us more housing. Allow us through the various funding sources out there. Allow us those opportunities to develop more housing at all income spectrum,” he said. 

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