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What you need to make to afford median rent in Austin

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The rent-burden equation

Janna Morton

While Austin apartment prices might be some of the fastest-rising in the nation, a sizable portion of the population is not rent-burdened—at least according to a study by the statistical arm of rental site Apartment List.

For those not familiar with the term, cost-burdened households are those that 30% of gross income on rent—the threshold recommended by meaning they spend more than the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Approximately half of the country’s renters fall into that category, according to a different study. That number is decreasing slightly, but it’s still big enough for U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) to have introduced legislation that would provide tax credits to cost-burdened renters earning up to $100,000.

In its more recent study, Apartment List analyzed median rents in 100 of the largest U.S. cities and looked at the minimum income required to afford them. It found that in 24% of the 100 largest U.S. cities, median-income renters will be cost-burned if they rent a median-priced, two-bedroom apartment.

That’s not the case yet in Austin, however. According to the report, to rent a median-priced two-bedroom apartment in the city and earn an annual income of at least $57,040, you will not be cost-burdened by that rental.

Since the median household income in Austin is $65,756, according to the report, the majority of the city’s renters should not be cost-burdened (the study had similar findings for one-bedroom and studio apartments).

Looked at another way, however, the study reports that the minimum hourly wage workers should earn in order to rent a median-priced two-bedroom in Austin’s $27/hour. Since the minimum wage in Austin is $7/hour, that presumably puts a still significant number of households in either housing priced cheaper than the median or apartments that leave them rent-burdened—if not both.