High Cost of Rent Impacts Austinites' Ability to Pay for Healthcare

AUSTIN—A coalition of local non-profits is out to raise awareness about Austin's affordability crisis. One Voice Central Texas has launched a new campaign detailing the struggles of renters in the city. 

The nebulizer that Danielle Henderson has for her daughter, who has asthma, is now too small. But, the single mother says buying another one isn't an option.

"That's not something I can afford to do," said Henderson. 

Henderson says she can't afford it because of the high cost of her rent. 

"I've had to prioritize my debt. So, it's either I pay my rent or I pay this hospital bill,” said Henderson. 

It's an issue facing nearly a third of people who rent in Austin. One Voice Central Texas says 31 percent of renters have gone without medication, healthcare and dental care. That's why the coalition's latest campaign is aimed at raising awareness of the affordability crisis.

"It's easy for an economy to grow and to leave people out without careful planning," said Jo Kathryn Quinn, the coalition's secretary.

Henderson has felt left out several times in her life. She and her daughter have been homeless twice. While she works full-time now, she still struggles.

"The fact still remains that I have to find a job that'll pay me enough to afford that rent," said Henderson.

Henderson hopes that when she graduates from Austin Community College, she'll earn more. Capital Idea is supporting her education, which has taken longer than originally thought.

"We want our students to go full-time, to take a full load of classes and Danielle wants to do that too, but can't afford to and she is basically treading water for another year or so," said Steve Jackobs, executive director of Capital Idea.

Perseverance that One Voice Central Texas hopes to inspire leaders to plan for a future that all can be a part of.

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