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Houstonians flock to high-density living

September 7, 2018

Life for Houstonians keeps getting denser and new federal data released Thursday helps quantify the trend.

In 2017, there were 168,600 households in buildings with 50 or more units — more than double the number in 2013. They are moving to recent large-scale residential additions to the city such as Camden McGowen Station and the Pearl in Midtown.

Also increasing in popularity are cooperatives, the data show. While homeowners in a condominium directly own their units, in a cooperative, people form a corporation that owns the entire building and own shares that allow them to live there instead of the units themselves.

The arrangement can be cheaper than buying a condominium, which data shows has become less popular in Houston. It also allows more control over who can move into the building. Unlike an apartment or condominium building, in which residents have little control over who else lives there, in a cooperative, new residents must be approved before they can move in. The practice that has sometimes led to accusations of discrimination that can be difficult to prove.

In 2013, 1,600 Houston households lived in cooperatives. Last year, that number grew to 10,000. In the same span of time, 20,300 fewer household chose to live in condominiums.

Overall, the data show that home ownership increased slightly across the city, and the pool of homeowners is becoming more diverse. The percentage of white and Hispanic households that owned their homes stayed steady between 2015 and 2017, while home ownership for black households increased from 45 percent to 48 percent. For Asian households, it increased from 61 percent to 67 percent.

With increasing density has come increasing problems with pests. The Houston area saw 176,600 new households in a span of four years and an even larger influx of rodents and roaches. The pests plagued 540,000 more households in 2017 than they had in 2013.

rebecca.schuetz@chron.com; @raschuetz

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