WACO, Texas — The City of Waco has seen an increase in it’s homeless population. 2023’s numbers show 220 people are un-housed, that’s a 40 person increase since 2022. A 2022 study found the City of Waco is need of five thousand affordable housing units, and the city is now taking action to create those affordable homes.
- Housing and Homeless services attributes the increase in affordable housing to the lack of affordable housing
- Waco has a handful of affordable homes in East Waco and they’re looking to build more. The next project in South Waco by South Waco Elementary is expected to be complete in the next 2 years.
- Price believes these affordable units are a tool in the city’s toolbox to decrease the homeless population.
“There’s been a massive housing crisis across the entire country,” said Nicole Wiscombe the housing and homeless services director.
Nicole Wiscombe attributes a big percentage of the homeless population to a lack of affordable housing.
“The rate of income to rent that we pay, our incomes aren’t growing to keep up with our rent,” she said.
A 2022 study found Waco is in need of five thousand affordable housing units.
“If you’re spending more than 50 percent if your income on your housing costs that’s considered severely cost burdened,” said Galen Price, the housing and community development director of Waco.
The City of Waco’s Housing and Community Development Director says higher priced housing units weren’t available for people who could afford them, which is a cause of the affordability crisis.
“It lessens the amount of units available for them and so you have people spending less, but then you also have people spending more, which creates this mismatch,” Price said.
Taking a deeper dive into the numbers, if you make below 30 percent of the area median income, which would be about $14,000, the affordable rent price you should pay would be below $400.
“$360 is not and would not allow you to have quality housing,” he said.
So, how is the city planning to address the increasing homeless population?
Right now, Waco has a handful of affordable homes in East Waco and they’re looking to build more — the next project in South Waco by South Waco Elementary is expected to be complete in the next two years.
“The projects would have to have an affordability component as well as a market rate component — so there’s a mixture of housing options that are available to kind of offset you,” he said.
Price believes these affordable units are a tool in the city’s toolbox to decrease the homeless population.
“It can act as a preventive measure for homelessness — as opposed to addressing those that are already homeless," Price said.