Local job market growth leading to affordable housing shortage

Posted at 6:42 PM, May 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-16 19:42:29-04

The local job market is strong and growing.

More than 4,200 hundred jobs have been added to this area since Hurricane Harvey, and there are more on the way.  According to data from the Corpus Christi Economic Development Corporation, more than 6,000 thousand new jobs are expected by 2023.

The flip-side to all this is a concern about having enough affordable housing options for the expanding work force.  Even though some new apartment complexes are under construction, there’s still a shortage, meaning demand outweighs supply in the local housing market; and housing that is available is often too expensive for the average family to afford.

“If we keep adding jobs at the rate we’re adding, adding population at the rate we’re adding we’re going to need to do something in terms of growth management,” said Iain Vasey, CEO of the Corpus Christi Economic Development Corporation.  “We’re going to need to start adding new housing units.”

According to the CCEDC, the city is running short on workforce housing; but how short?

“We think it’s somewhere between 11-1,200 and as many as 1,500 housing units a year short,” said Vasey.  “That’s very year for the next five years.”

Availability is one issue, affordability is another.  The average Corpus Christi resident earns a little more than $25,000 a year.  That average worker can afford a $625 dollar monthly rent, but the average price for a one bedroom apartment is $881 a month, $1112 for a two bedroom.

“We need to start thinking about strategies to bring more affordable housing, workforce housing to the market,” said Vasey.

Mayor Joe McComb says finding the solution is easier said than done.  Meanwhile, several low-income complexes have opened around the city with more planned.  However, there isn’t an answer for people in need who don’t qualify for low income housing.

“You can see that bubble and it’s starting to squeeze folks,” said Vasey.

Another reason for the lack of affordable apartments is a lack of affordable houses.  A family making the median household income can probably afford a $170,000 house, but the median home price is about $200,000.

According to McComb, the state offers incentives to developers who build low to moderate income housing developments.