Each year the Texas Lyceum conducts a statewide poll and surveys people from all over Texas to get a sense of the state’s top issues, their opinions on upcoming elections and how Texans feel about certain topics. The Texas Lyceum is a nonpartisan, nonprofit leadership organization that has been influential in shaping Texas policy over the past forty years.

One of the key goals in HAR’s advocacy efforts is to collaborate with organizations that are highlighting housing issues in Texas. Currently, Amber Burton Alfred, HAR’s Director of Governmental Affairs and Advocacy, and Laolu Davies-Yemitan, who co-chairs HAR’s Political Affairs Advisory Group, both serve on the Board of Directors for the Texas Lyceum.

Texans Increasingly Concerned About the Economy and Housing

Overall, Texans are feeling fairly pessimistic about many issues facing the state, however, the findings from this year’s poll are particularly concerning on the issue of housing. For anyone who pays attention to the national news media, this will come as no surprise but in a state that has generally been known for its abundance of affordable housing, housing being a top issue heading into a presidential election is something new.

The poll findings shed light on the fact that what was arguably once our state’s biggest strength is quickly becoming a glaring weakness.

According to the 2024 Texas Lyceum Poll, 63% of all respondents agreed with the statement that they spend too much of their income on housing. For Texans aged 18-29, that number climbs to 71% and when it comes to renters, 73% agree. In the 2020 Texas Lyceum Poll, 55% of all respondents answered that they did not agree with that same statement while today that number has dropped to just 27%.

So, What Can Be Done?

First, prioritizing housing affordability should be at the top of mind for all our state’s policymakers and advocacy organizations. While we know the high interest rates set by the Federal Reserve and the rapid increase in home prices are the leading causes in the deterioration of housing affordability in Texas and across the country, there are certainly ways local leaders can make a difference.

In 2023, HAR worked with the City of Houston and other stakeholders to help pass a series of changes to Chapter 42, the City’s residential building codes, which aim to increase Houston’s affordable housing stock by making it easier to build smaller and different types of housing within the city. Changes like making it easier to build accessory dwelling units on a property, allowing courtyard-style developments and making it cheaper for multi-family developments that feature three to eight units to be constructed in the city will all go a long way to increasing housing affordability for Houstonians.

Other ways local governments can help reduce the cost of housing include focusing on increasing supply, reducing minimum lot sizes, and eliminating parking minimums which can free up more space for affordable housing developments.

All Hands on Deck

Increasing housing affordability is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges we face as a region, a state, and a country moving forward. It will take time, resources, coordination, and planning at all levels of government. By embracing innovative policies, keeping a forward-thinking mentality, and working together, we can make housing more attainable for all.

HAR will be hosting our third annual Housing Symposium this November. Last year, more than 400 real estate professionals showed up to hear from dynamic speakers diving deep into the most important topics in housing. Be on the lookout for more information on this year’s event coming soon. We hope to see you there.