Housing

Housing Snapshot

The Midtown Area Regional Center has just over 6,000 households and is growing faster than the city overall, adding almost 800 households since 2010. The average annual household growth of 2.3% is much faster than the citywide average of 1.0%. The Midtown Area has a median household income of $30,750, which is lower than the citywide average, partly due to a large student population and collection of public housing units.

 

There are currently 7,340 housing units in the Midtown Area Regional Center. Vacancy in the area is much higher than the citywide average, with 17% of Midtown Area housing units vacant. The high vacancy rate may be driven by the large number of recently built housing projects. However, it may also be an indication of a significant number of housing units being used as short-term rental units.

The housing stock in the Midtown Area is a mixture of housing types, age, and quality. The housing stock is split between much older and much newer homes. Since 2010, there have been 192 for-sale homes built and over 1,500 apartments developed in the Midtown Area.

The area has a higher concentration of renters than the city as a whole, with 75% of occupied housing units rented, compared to 47% across the city. Most of these rentals are in low-density housing; 57% of rental units are in buildings with 4 or fewer units.

Housing affordability is measured in terms of “cost burden” or the share of income paid towards housing costs. In general, a household that spends more than 30% its gross income on housing costs is considered “cost burdened.” Generally, homeowner affordability is not a significant issue in the Midtown Area; however, recent changes in the market are impacting homeowner affordability. The average home price in the Midtown Area in 2017 was $358,000 and has increased by 9 % annually over the past five years. Overall, 24% of homeowners in the area are cost burdened, paying over 30% of income towards housing, a figure on par with the Bexar County average. However, this percentage has increased from 17% to 24% since 2000.

 

The affordability of renting in the Midtown Area is growing concern. The average rent for apartments in the Midtown Area Regional Center is $1,276 per month and average monthly rents have increased by $650 since 2010, which is almost twice the county’s average increase. Cost burden is a growing issue for low-income renters in the Midtown Area, with 74% of renter households earning less than $20,000 and 52% of renter households earning between $20,000 and $35,000 spending over 30% of income on rent. There are a higher number of renters in single-family homes which raises concerns of potential displacement of residents as lower income renters in single-family homes are the most vulnerable to impacts of rising rents and property values.

 

 

Housing issues and strategies were primary topics of discussion at Community Meeting #2 and Planning Team Meeting #5, and were prominent topics of community and stakeholder input throughout the planning process. Community Meeting and Planning Team Meeting Summaries are available in the Documents Library of the Midtown Area Regional Center Plan webpage.

 

Housing Challenges in the Midtown Area Regional Center

The Midtown Area is growing quickly and has rapidly become one of the most attractive areas of the city in which to live for increasing numbers of San Antonians. While the Midtown Area currently has a diversity of housing types and incomes, there is a significant portion of the population that are lower income households as well as mostly renter-occupied housing units (with many renters in single-family homes or smaller buildings with 2 to 4 units). This high percentage of renters, particularly the large portion in single-family homes, makes these households more vulnerable to displacement as new development occurs and market values increase.

While the percentage of Midtown Area households that are cost burdened for housing has grown commensurate with the city and county averages so far, this may change in the future. New development has attracted new residents to the area who can support the current market rental rates and home prices. While existing and long-term residents have so far been able to remain in the area, the increasing financial pressure on these households from rising rental rates and property taxes may make it hard to remain. There are three main challenges in the Midtown Area Regional Center related to housing:

 

 

  1. Potential for Displacement of Existing Residents: Rising rental rates, property values, and home prices will make it harder for lower income residents to remain in the area. This challenge will particularly affect renter households.
  2. Preserving Historic Character and Reinvesting in Older Housing Stock: The older housing stock gives the Midtown Area amazing character, but will be difficult to maintain due to costs of reinvestment and development pressures.
  3. Maintaining Opportunity for All Household Types and Incomes to Live in the Midtown Area: The cost of new development and demand for housing in the area make rents and prices for new – and even existing – homes harder for lower income residents to afford.

 

Housing Recommendations

Housing recommendations were developed based on the Midtown Area’s Vision and Goals and to address the challenges identified within the planing process. See the Housing Strategy document in the Documents Library for a summary of housing conditions and challenges that provide the basis for the recommendations.

The Midtown Area has a diverse mix of housing types and ages of housing units. The area has a combination of older historic homes and new apartments and townhomes. Household growth is projected to continue in the Midtown Area over the next 15 to 20 years. Directing most of this growth to mixed-use corridors and focus areas, while encouraging new housing in neighborhoods that is context-sensitive, will help minimize displacement and maintain the affordability and character of the area.
The Midtown Area has a good mixture of households at various income and education attainment levels, as well as a diversity of jobs. As demand for housing in the area grows, a major challenge will be maintaining affordability for a diverse range of current and future residents. Currently, 7% of units in the Midtown Area are income or deed restricted affordable housing units, and more are naturally affordable. Maintaining these existing units and growing the number of new affordable units can help preserve opportunities for households earning lower than average incomes.
The Midtown Area’s population is forecasted to grow significantly over the next 15 to 20 years. Much of the housing needed to accommodate this growth is anticipated to occur in mixed-use focus areas and corridors within the Midtown Area. However, accommodating housing growth that helps address affordability challenges and the impacts of increasing demand and housing prices must also be addressed within existing neighborhoods. Strategies to help maintain the current diversity of housing and allowing for context-sensitive, small-scale infill development are needed.
The Midtown Area Regional Center is one part of San Antonio, and its housing issues and opportunities are inextricably linked to the rest of the city and the region. Ensuring diverse and affordable housing options amidst all of the Midtown Area’s opportunities cannot be accomplished with a focus on the Midtown Area alone. Many programs, incentives, and funding sources for maintaining housing affordability should be established in consideration of the whole city. San Antonio’s Housing Policy Framework has identified actions, policy priorities, and implementation strategies to do this. Similarly, every Regional Center and Community Area in San Antonio has a role to play in achieving a diverse and affordable housing future for the city. The Midtown Area’s communities have indicated through the planning process that diversity is valued, that the Midtown Area is a place where existing residents should be able to stay, and where new diverse housing for people to live in is welcome. As with every other part of San Antonio, the Midtown Area’s future success is tied, in part, to implementing San Antonio’s Housing Policy Framework.