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Maybe Lafayette isn’t so cheap?

Finding affordable housing is getting harder and harder in Lafayette, mirroring trends elsewhere in the South. Photo by Travis Gauthier

The gist: It’s not just the rising cost of living. Wages aren’t keeping up with home prices. Lafayette spends about as much of its income on rent as some major cities. 

30% is the median cost ratio for renters in Lafayette Parish. In other words, the average renter pays just about one-third of their income on housing costs. 

📢 Listen up! We’re putting young voters front and center this election.

Your response to this survey will guide what we report and what questions we ask candidates.

Policymakers call that “cost burdened.” And it’s a growing problem impacting the country, particularly the American South. Half of most rent-burdened counties in the U.S. are in the South. 

The next Austin? Well, maybe in terms of cost. Lafayette’s median-cost ratio (30.3%) is roughly the same as Houston’s (30.5%) and higher than Austin’s (28.6%). 

What’s happening? Lower incomes and rising prices. Yes, the median rent in Lafayette ($919) is lower than Austin ($1,422). But Lafayette’s median income ($63,000) is also much lower than Austin’s ($85,000). 

“​​I can afford my apartment, but only because of a job that pays higher than most people I know. I still struggle to feel ‘comfortable’ and a large part of that is because of how much I am spending on rent,” says Ashley Yelverton, who manages a salon in Lafayette. Her rent is scheduled to go up. 

Supply and demand. Meanwhile, there’s simply a lack of housing to go around. In Lafayette, just 1 in 50 homes built since 2020 sold for less than $200,000. Homeownership costs will drive up the price of rent. 

Housing costs and job opportunities are big concerns for young voters. That’s true across the country, where college graduates are leaving the big coastal cities. And it’s also true in Lafayette. 

A woman and a man, holding a baby, in front of a small home

With an aging stock of existing homes, and effectively no new construction below $200,000, Lafayette’s first-time homebuyers are being shut out of the market.

“It all comes down to quality jobs. I’d prefer to be here, but I have to go where there’s quality work,” Steven Griffin, 29, told us in a survey last year. Looking for better job opportunities is a key reason young voters told us they would leave Lafayette. 

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