ABOR Report, “the Truth about Austin's Missing Housing"


ABOR report highlights striking disparities in housing affordability. click here for the ABOR Report on "the Truth about Austin's Missing Housing."


A new report from one of the city’s leading real estate groups is bringing fresh, detailed data that shows how unaffordable housing has become for most local residents.

Austin Board of Realtors’ “The Truth About Austin’s Missing Housing” uses industry sales data to examine the overall state of housing affordability among different earning levels and racial groups, and also looks at the state of housing in all 10 City Council districts. It finds that while 50.2 percent of four-person households earn $93,000 or less each year – putting them at 80 percent of the local median family income or below – less than 5 percent of homes sold in the first half of 2023 were affordable to those households. That imbalance means there’s an overall 45.4 percent shortage of homes in Travis County, or 247,240 homes unavailable to potential buyers.

Among different racial groups at 80 percent or less of median family income, Black/African American households had a 58.3 percent shortage of housing compared to a 57.6 percent shortage for Hispanic/Latino households, 53.2 percent for the “other races” category, 38.4 percent for white households and 35 percent for Asian households.

Read the full report with detailed data breakdowns for each Council district here.

The report offers the most up-to-date look at Austin’s housing supply and affordability crunch, which is  comprehensively updated typically every five years in compliance with various federal Housing and Urban Development programs.

Taylor Smith, ABOR’s deputy director of government affairs, said the new analysis and findings show both that the city is far behind in reaching the goals of its Strategic Housing Blueprint and that the initial goals set in the 2017 document were too modest.

“Being able to compare the district shortages to Austin’s Strategic Housing Blueprint is also another big thing that leaders should take away from the report,” he said. “Even at that time (in 2017), Austin Board of Realtors worked with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M to try to provide accurate data to inform higher shortages or a higher need of housing than what was ultimately put into or established as the goals in that blueprint.”

The report concludes with a handful of policy recommendations that either reflect recent Council action on increasing the number of units on a lot and eliminating parking requirements, or are expected to receive attention in the coming months. Smith said ABOR plans to update the report annually to provide city leaders with the most current picture of the state of housing.

Via email, Council Member Ryan Alter praised the report for “highlighting the need for more affordability across all income levels across Austin. It also highlights how these challenges are disproportionately impacting certain populations.”

Alter did take issue with some of the limits of the data, which can suggest that more affluent areas of the city are better serving the housing demand compared to lower-income areas.

“The analytical method makes it seem like more affluent and less diverse districts are better meeting the affordable housing needs of our community, rather than showing the lack of opportunities for the broader city community to live in these areas,” he wrote. “For example, the report shows that a lower percentage of District 10 can’t afford housing than District 5, but what this is really saying is that there are more high-income households in D10 able to afford real estate in the district than in D5. I understand the complications of conducting an analysis like this, but without considering interdistrict migration and those moving into Austin from elsewhere, it paints an incomplete picture that can be misleading.”

For those involved in expanding housing availability throughout the city, ABOR’s report is a reminder of the need for a variety of programs and financial and planning tools to increase supply at all levels.

“What’s really astounding is just the sheer magnitude of the issue and understanding how much ground we actually do cover to really ensure that folks in our community have equitable access to housing,” said Awais Azhar, a member of the advocacy committee of Housing Works Austin. “One of the good things that they talk about is the shortage that exists particularly for folks of color. It’s very demoralizing to really see that Black households have less of an ability to enter a housing market, and then Latinos and then everybody else, and that Asian Americans and white folks in our community have more of an access.”

Photo made available through a Creative Commons license.