Austin Plans to Build Affordable Housing for Residents

Tom Handy

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Affordable housing in AustinScreenshot from Twitter

Austin City Council met on October 21 to discuss available land to use for affordable housing. In Southwest Austin, more than 18 acres of land could be used for more affordable housing.

On Thursday, the City Council voted unanimously to give the first green light to a development planned for an area off of Brandt Road, just east of Interstate 35 near Onion Creek. The proposed development will still need to go through two more readings before final approval.

According to KVUE, Councilmember Ann Kitchen from District 5 affirmed those concerns Thursday, noting that Brandt Road is considered substandard and saying that the council needs to make sure there are sidewalks in the area.

Kitchen said City Council is working with the Public Works Department on the timeline and cost for a sidewalk or shared-use path. This would go from the proposed development to Slaughter Lane.

Community Impact stated that area neighbors were worried about the location's and the floodplain. Kitchen responded that it would be against City regulations for developers to build on the floodplain. The Council woman said developers will have to plan the building so that it doesn't add to more downstream runoff.

City Council members planned to discuss the land being purchased by the Austin Housing Finance Committee with money from Project Connect's anti-displacement fund.

The city council agenda stated 400 to 800 affordable housing units would be potentially available.

"Additionally, the significant size of this property allows for a true mixed-use development that might incorporate both commercial businesses and cultural facilities and organizations at risk of displacement from the area," the agenda item reads.

The 18 acres of property is currently owned by Austin Energy consists of 18 acres of property and is located near where Project Connect plans to build its blue line light rail stations. The property is also located within a mile of an H-E-B, a library, and an elementary school.

Austin has a 3.8% unemployment rate according to the Texas Workforce Commission which is lower than before the pandemic.

Travis County Judge Andy Brown shares some of his thoughts on housing.

Austin has not met its goals recently

In 2020, the nonprofit Housing Works Austin, in a joint press release with the city’s Housing and Planning Department, acknowledged that the city is “progressing slowly” toward meeting its goals. The City in the Austin Strategic Housing Blueprint outlined a 10-year plan that sets a goal of creating 60,000 units. The price was aimed for those who made 80 percent or less of the median family income.

Since 2017, City Council adopted the plan to build 7,010 total units. In the 10 year goal, only 12 percent was accomplished. This means the city is approximately 11,000 units behind on it’s goal.

Last year, zero affordable units were built in Council Alison Alter’s district. Only 24 affordable units were built since 2018.

Last year Council Member Greg Casar, of North Austin’s District 4, said in an email:

“We need a transformational new housing bond program, citywide affordable housing bonus programs, and a commitment to housing on dozens more pieces of city-owned property through our existing property and Project Connect anti-displacement funds.”

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