RGV is one of Texas’ least affordable places to live, experts say

Local News

HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended the eviction moratorium by another month, but local housing experts say that affordable housing will not be available for those who need it.

The Rio Grande Valley is home to the least affordable Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) in the state of Texas because people here cannot afford to live here, according to the affordable housing group, Come Dream Come Build (CDCB).

“For an individual to rent that apartment and not spend more than 30 percent of their income on that housing they need to earn $14.62 an hour—the median renter in our region currently earns $9.14 an hour,” said Zoraima Diaz, CDCB director of policy.

The state of Texas has 26 MSA’s, two of which are in the Rio Grande Valley: the Harlingen-Brownsville and the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission MSA’s.

“We know that the Brownsville-Harlingen and the McAllen-Edinburg MSA’s are the two least affordable metropolitan statistical areas out of all the 26 MSA’s in the state of Texas,” said Diaz

There is a misconception that it is more affordable to live in the Valley, according to Diaz, because in comparison to other MSA’s the average cost of living is lower, but so is the pay.

“Their ability to even afford an apartment or to purchase a home in our region is really what impacts that affordability matrix,” said Diaz.

Since the beginning of the eviction moratorium in March 2020, Cameron County has seen over 700 filings for evections and Hidalgo has seen over 1,000 filings.

However, there will not be many alternative options for people to turn to once the moratorium is over, according to Diaz.

She said the amount of houses under $100k in the region has dropped to only 12% in the last ten years.

“But really what’s happening is a lot of families are essentially priced out of the market because even though they qualify for a mortgage it’s not sufficient to purchase a home,” said Diaz.

The other obstacle that comes with the moratorium ending is renters who have accumulated months of back-rent or accumulated rent that has not been paid. Diaz explained that some tenants have not been able to pay rent since March 2020.

“Although individuals are now perhaps returning back to work at full time or more than full-time status they have accumulated back rent or ‘rent arrears’ they have not been able to pay rent since March 2020,” said Diaz.

Click here to learn about Cameron County’s rental assistance, and click here for more information on other Texas’ counties’ programs.

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