The HOME Initiative Represented Council’s Most Significant Housing Changes in Years

Renters and young families advocated for changes to increase affordability


City Hall was packed December 7 for the vote on the HOME initiative (Photo by Jana Birchum)

December 7: This month, Council voted 9-2 to enact the most significant changes to Austin's Land Development Code in years. Stemming from Phase 1 of Council Member Leslie Pool's Home Options for Middle-Income Empowerment resolution in July, the changes mean property owners can now build up to three homes on lots that were previously zoned single-family. They can also install tiny homes on the property, and there are preservation bonuses that allow owners of older homes to preserve the building while adding onto it. The new rules also remove restrictions on unrelated adults living together in group homes, cooperatives, or simply as a way to afford rent.

At several public meetings, including a historic joint meeting of the Planning Commission and Council, HOME had the enthusiastic support of young families, renters, and students, who lamented the prohibitive lack of housing pushing them out of Austin. Some worried the changes might bring displacement to Austin's historically Black neighborhoods and advocated for an affordability requirement; but similar policies in Houston have resulted in more affordability without displacement, UT-Austin researchers recently found. All in all, the success of HOME indicates that Austinites and their representatives are more worried about the cost of doing nothing.

HOME had the enthusiastic support of young families, renters, and students, who lamented the prohibitive lack of housing pushing them out of Austin.

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