A recently released, 20-year analysis by Austin Habitat for Humanity found the region’s median income has jumped 37 percent in the past five years, the highest increase ever recorded in the greater Austin area’s history. 

As a result, more people will qualify to purchase one of the organization’s homes. The nonprofit builds affordable housing for those who meet its income qualifications,

Austin-area MFI  for a family of four increased 10.9 percent from 2022 to 2023 and 11.5 percent from 2021 to 2022 — along with an 11.5 percent, the three greatest MFI increases recorded in the past two decades. By comparison, the average increase in MFI for a family of four was 1.9 percent per year for the 15-year period between 2003 and 2018.

While MFI has increased rapidly, the cost to own and rent a home climbed even more dramatically. The average price of a home in the Austin and Round Rock region has increased 65 percent from 2018 to 2022, according to the Texas Real Estate Research Center. Across the Central Texas region, monthly rents for one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments averaged $1,683 as of December, up 10.4 percent from December 2021’s $1,525, according to Capitol Market Research.

“We’ve always played an important safety net role, but now we’re playing that role for different types of earners," said Habitat's Michele Anderson. "Folks in the medical system and even some tech workers, who didn’t fit our historical mold, now qualify for Habitat homes.”

“People who recently made too much money now qualify to purchase a Habitat home," said the organization's Wayne Gerami. Benefits of the program include below-market mortgage rates, low down payments, and energy-efficient, new homes with a low maintenance costs, he said.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determines income qualification for the program based on the region's MFI. In exchange for the benefits of Habitat homeownership, two hundred “sweat equity”  hours over a two-year period are required of the home buyers.

In addition to tech workers, Anderson notes, other professions known for making a solidly middle-class wage, such as teachers and first responders, may also now qualify for a Habitat home. Austin Habitat serves people making 60 percent to 80 percent of the regional MFI.

For 2023, here is who qualifies:

●       A single-person household must earn $49,080 to $65,450.

●       A two-person household must earn $56,100 to $74,800.

●       A three-person household must earn $63,120 to $84,150.

●       A four-person household must earn $70,080 to $93,450.

●       A complete qualifying chart can be found here on the Austin Habitat website.

The regional MFI for a four-person household is $122,300.

“I started working at Austin Habitat in 2007. I never thought I’d see the day when a three-person household could earn more than $80,000 a year and a four-person household could earn more than $90,000 a year and still qualify for one of our homes,” said Gerami. “These are milestone thresholds. We urge people who might otherwise think they make too much money to qualify to give us a serious look because we are, by far, the best, most affordable home on the market.”