Texas Leads Country in New Housing Units Built

Leah Binkovitz | @leahbink | May 24, 2016

Photo by Ryan Holeywell.

Photo by Ryan Holeywell.

Even as oil prices and production were starting to decline, Texas still managed to add people — and housing. Newly released numbers from the Census Bureau show that Texas built more new housing units than any other state between July 1, 2014 and July 1, 2015. The state added an impressive 162,312 units for a growth rate of 1.6 percent. Compare that to California, which added 79,977 for a growth rate of only 0.6 percent.

Interactive: Click on each state to see the number of units added between July 1, 2014 and July 1, 2015, plus more information about that state’s housing growth and ranking. By Leah Binkovitz.

North Dakota had the highest housing growth rate at 3.5 percent, driven largely by the surge of oil workers to the state.

Not surprisingly, North Dakota also had the county with the fastest housing growth rate. McKenzie County, located in the heart of the state’s oil fields, added roughly 2,000 units at a growth rate of 55.9 percent. Four other North Dakota counties were in the top 10. Just west of Harris County, Fort Bend County was the 8th fastest growing place for housing, adding 9,316 new units at a growth rate of 4.2 percent. Harris County grew at a slower rate — just 2.2 percent — but added 37,674 units.

Article continues below chart.

Will all these housing units do much to improve affordability?

That’s an open question. Many states, Texas and California included, are still facing massive affordable housing gaps. In an Urban Edge story about a new national program meant to help states build more affordable units, Tory Gunsolley, head of the Houston Housing Authority, noted that within Houston’s growth, “the vast majority of all the new housing that is being built is all targeted as luxury housing, so that’s not affordable for extremely low income families or even low income families.”

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2 Responses

  1. Tory says:

    Basics of supply-demand economics: if you add nicer newer housing of any kind at the high end, then the previously high-end stuff has to cut their price to compete (they become the new 2nd tier), which forces the old 2nd tier stuff cut their price to compete, and then the 3rd, 4th, and additional tiers all must cut their prices to compete all the way down – a pricing ripple/cascade creating an increase of affordable housing at the low end. Affordable housing is almost always older stock.

    A good comparison is the used car market: almost anyone can afford a Mercedes, the question is how old of a Mercedes. But for the old ones to be affordable now, they had to be produced as expensive new ones 10 and 20 years ago. The same principle applies to housing. The new stuff now will be affordable years in the future, but for that to be case the pipeline of new high-end stuff must always be flowing.

  2. bks says:

    An older house–and the repairs, maintenance, insurance, inefficiency of construction and appliances, etc., as well as the difficulty/costs of obtaining financing for its lower tier price point–may be “older stock” and yet, still prove an impractical alternative to increased rents in areas where wage levels increase below the annual rise in the cost of living and job security is measured in day-to-day “right to work” contracts.

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