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Wednesday, July 6, 2022
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Opinion: The Cost of Housing Affordability on Young Professionals


Hand holding house key chain | Image by nednapa

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Dallas is consistently recognized as one of the most popular destinations for young professionals. And it’s easy to see why. With a strong job market, thriving entertainment scene, friendly people, and a good standard of living, it didn’t take much convincing for me to pursue job opportunities in Dallas after I graduated from LSU in 2019. But like many of my peers in Texas and around the country, it has become near impossible to find affordable housing.

Entering adulthood in a new city has its fair share of challenges, especially with the rapidly changing labor market making it more difficult for young professionals like me to find their financial footing. In addition to housing, costs are rising across everything we use – gas, food, power, and many others. At the same time, a lot of the job growth in Texas is increasingly concentrated in metropolitan areas with high rents. From March 2020 to now, the estimated median rent of new leases has doubled in several Texas cities, as shown in a new Apartment List study. And it’s not just the major cities. Plano and Round Rock have experienced more than a 20% increase that year.

I love living in Dallas and want to stay in the city for the long-term. But in November 2020, when given my apartment renewal, I was shocked to see the new monthly rate and made the decision to move back home with my parents so I could instead start saving for a down payment on a home. I was extremely lucky to have that option, but many of my friends didn’t and continue to pay inflated rent prices they increasingly cannot afford or have abandoned the goal of moving to Dallas altogether, thanks to this new, and increasingly higher cost of living.

Clearly the cost of housing is a crisis for everyone, but it seems that younger workers are being held back and may suffer long-term financial consequences. Our mobility is being hamstrung. If we cannot move to take a higher paying job, because even that higher paying job will not guarantee financial stability in a high-rent city, that is a crisis.

We need our cities to find ways to hold down the cost of housing, incentivize landlords to hold their rents stable, or at least keep the increases affordable for working renters. Some private companies are already shaking things up to lower some costs. Companies like Rhino, for example, are changing the way people rent apartments around the country and in Texas by offering a kind of security deposit insurance that gives renters the option to pay a few dollars per month for an insurance policy that protects landlords exactly the same way a security deposit would. The difference is we do not need to put down a month or more of rent in cash. That is cash, by the way, that can be used for other purposes and that would take months to save for as well.     

We’re not asking for a handout. The cost of housing is a crisis for everyone, and we need options and solutions. Young workers are vital to keep the economic growth of Texas going, but if we cannot afford to live where the jobs are, it will limit how much longer Texas can keep up its economic progress.

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