The Fraying Of The Texas Miracle: How The State's Affordability Edge Is Coming Undone

Texas has long marketed itself as the promised land of low taxes, few regulations and cheap housing. For more than two decades, that’s been the undisputed best pitch in America.

Thousands of businesses, millions of people and billions of dollars in investment have flocked to the state, chasing the dream popularized as the Texas Miracle. But one prong of its three-part pitch is increasingly endangered — affordable housing.

Explosive population growth that shows no sign of abating has strained the state’s ability to build fast enough to accommodate newcomers and old-timers alike, pushing prices up beyond the means of ordinary Texans. That, in turn, has jeopardized the state’s reputation as a business and corporate relocation magnet. Companies, citing housing costs as an issue, are already beginning to decide to stay put, seek greener pastures in other states or halt planned expansions in the state altogether.

The world’s ninth-largest economy faces a stark choice: Find ways to build more housing and build it faster, or risk losing its crown to states that are already circling, hawking far less expensive housing in the same low-tax, low-regulatory environment.

With projections showing the state’s population could nearly double to 47.4 million by 2050 and housing supply already behind by at least 322,000 units, Texas has little time to waste.

Yet despite a housing shortage that is second only to California's, impediments to turning the ship around abound. Projects that would add to supply and bring down costs are stalled or quashed outright by community members opposed to growth, restrictive and antiquated zoning, and land use policies that drive up prices for renters and would-be homebuyers.

For the first time in recent memory, lawmakers on the left and right came together to head off what both sides agree is a ticking time bomb. Legislators filed more than 200 bills this year to address spiraling housing costs, egged on by academics, housing advocates, developers, local elected officials and fed-up residents. 

In the end, though, a paltry 14 were passed amid an ongoing fight over whose responsibility it is to solve the issue and whether centralizing land use is the best path to change or a brash overreach of power that usurps local control.

Katharine Carlon, Bisnow Central U.S. Editor |       June 7, 2023


Texas' 20-year winning streak could be coming to an end as an influx of people and companies erode its longtime housing edge.

Texas is becoming a victim of its own decades of success as a historic and sustained population boom takes a toll on housing markets across the state — and on the state's vaunted reputation as a people and business magnet.


Angry neighbors, restrictive zoning and elected officials' inclination to appease opposition are stymying new housing development.

Housing demand far exceeds the production of new homes in high-growth markets statewide, but projects that would add supply and bring down costs are regularly delayed or killed off by NIMBYs, strict zoning and land use policies that add thousands to buyers’ bottom lines. 


Despite a frenzy of activity in the Texas Legislature, little housing reform was accomplished.

Texas’ growing housing pressures are no longer a matter of debate, but a fight is brewing on whose problem it is to solve. For now, state and local governments are mostly at loggerheads.


Bisnow's Miriam Hall speaks to series reporters Olivia Lueckemeyer and Maddy McCarty about the state's increasing growing pains, with featured commentary from former Gov. Rick Perry, the longtime state leader often credited with making the Texas Miracle a reality.