City: More Affordable Housing Everywhere

Neighborhood Housing and Community Development draft goals to increase inventory for low- and moderate-income households

Greg Casar (center, holding sign) with Prop. A supporters during 2018 elections
Greg Casar (center, holding sign) with Prop. A supporters during 2018 elections (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

Council Member Greg Casar continues to put the pedal to the metal as City Hall's housing champion; on Tuesday, Feb. 12, he led the Council Housing and Planning Com­mit­tee, which he chairs, through an update on plans to implement the city's Strategic Housing Blueprint and spend the $250 million approved by voters in November's Proposition A bond measure. This comes right after his release last week of the Affordability Unlocked proposal to relax land use code requirements for developers of income-restricted housing. (Council will take up that draft resolution at their Feb. 21 meeting.)

Rather than distill the entire workload of the city's Neighborhood Housing and Com­munity Development department into a single briefing, Casar, his colleagues, and staff kept the discussion at a high level, with the biggest "news" being NHCD's draft geo­graphic goals for housing in each Council district and along the corridors being reinvented via the 2016 Mobility Bond. The Blueprint calls for 60,000 units affordable to low- and moderate-income households (those at 80% or below Austin's median family income) to be created or preserved over the next 10 years. It also calls for 75,000 units above that income threshold, but those won't be financed by Prop A money or other existing public subsidy programs.

So does NHCD propose we divide 60,000 units by 10 districts? Not exactly. Right now, of course, affordable housing is concentrated to Austin's east, due to obvious need (and desire to slow displacement of longtime residents) and lower-cost land. The mantra of "all kinds of housing in all parts of town" has buoyed advocates for years, and the draft goals address that by proposing larger shares of units (i.e., more than 6,000) not only in Eastside Districts 1 and 3, but also in West­side Districts 6, 7, 8, and 10. The lowest shares are in Casar's own District 4, which has the lowest housing costs in the city and is almost entirely built out, and District 9, which has the most new affordable units, largely in West Campus and at Mueller.

For its part, NHCD staff aimed to allocate four equal shares of 15,000 units each to high-need areas at risk of displacement; high-opportunity areas close to jobs and services; Imagine Austin corridors and centers; and the last quarter distributed geographically. Major corridors from the Mobility Bond that were allocated more than 1,000 units include North Lamar, East Riverside, William Cannon, and Slaughter. The draft goals are set to make the rounds of boards and commissions during March and April, tentatively arriving back at City Council on D-Day, June 6.

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affordable housing, Affordability Unlocked, Greg Casar, Housing and Planning Committee, Strategic Housing Blueprint, 2016 Mobility Bond, Neighborhood Housing and Community Development, Imagine Austin

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