Austin-area nonprofits are calling for $300 million in affordable housing bonds

The council agreed to put up a $350 million affordable housing bond for Austin residents to decide.

AUSTIN, Texas – The Austin City Council voted Thursday to place an affordable housing bond on the November ballot.

The council agreed to put up a $350 million affordable housing bond for Austin residents to decide. That’s a $50 million increase over what affordable housing advocates had originally called for.

Councilwoman Mackenzie Kelly was the lone vote against the measure, while Councilmembers Natasha Harper-Madison and Vanessa Fuentes abstained.

“We are very grateful to Mayor Adler and all council members for their support in placing the $350 million affordable housing bond on the November 2022 ballot,” said Larsa Quintana, campaign manager for the 2022 Affordable Housing Bond Campaign. “This bond will go a long way toward addressing Austin’s affordability crisis and providing access to housing for the most vulnerable Austinites.”

Upon approval, the debt service portion of the tax rate will increase by $0.0130. The annual impact for the typical homeowner, who has a home assessed at $448,000 with a tax value of $358,400, is a cost increase of $46.59.

The new affordable housing measure comes as housing prices and rents in Austin hit record highs, and after a group of Austin-area nonprofits launched a campaign asking the council to pass up to $300 million in housing bonds. put affordable in the November elections this year.

particle for direct object Austin Justice Coalition, HousingWorks Austin And others gathered in Jordan on July 21 at Mueller, a housing complex financed by previous bonds, to officially launch the campaign.

“Housing is central to all our struggles for justice and equality. Regardless of racial justice, gender equality or the needs of working people, we always come back to the importance of access to affordable, safe, sustainable and equitable housing, and this is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss. said Joao Paulo Connolly, organizing director of the Austin Justice Coalition.

These bonds are done through property tax increases. Currently, the amount of that increase has not been decided, but it will be before the election day.

“If Austin is truly going to live up to some of the high values ​​we claim to uphold, then affordable housing and fully affordable housing must be at the center of our priorities as a community,” Connolly said.

The most recent affordable housing bond was in 2018, but Connolly said while there is some money left over, it won’t last.

“Our affordable housing development programs, both for rent and for ownership, will be defunded. Our home repair program will be spent and our land acquisition programs from the city will be stopped because we will no longer have the money to continue these programs for years to come.”

The nonprofits say the bonds support a range of housing programs, including creating affordable rental units for low-income residents, repair and rehabilitation services for homeowners, and expanding homeownership opportunities for high-income Austinites. Medium, building supportive housing for those transitioning out of homelessness. and acquiring properties to produce more housing for those on lower incomes.

They say past bonds have financed affordable housing for nearly 6,000 households and allowed hundreds of homeowners to stay in their communities through repair programs.

Jennifer McKeever and her three children live in Station M, an affordable housing complex operated by Foundation Associations, which was financed by a 2006 bond. She and her children moved there in 2019 after living at the Austin Women’s and Children’s Shelter for about six months. He still remembers the day his case worker told him he was approved to live there.

“It was amazing,” McKeever said. “I mean, we’ve worked hard to find what my kids and I call our forever home.”

M Station also has many other resources, such as a free education center for children, which allows her to work as a single mother. She now feels she has the resources to give her children stability and a home.

“My biggest goal is to never be homeless again,” McKeever said. I don’t want my children to have to do this. And I’m relieved that it won’t happen again.”

As a single mother of three with no family in Austin, she still has to budget to even afford affordable housing, she said. But he hopes that other people can have the same opportunity to find safe, stable and affordable housing as he and his family did.

“So, it’s not like we’re getting a free ride,” McKeever said. “We are in a place where it is really possible for us to live and survive in this city.”

“Our previous bonds have delivered thousands of units of affordable permanent housing, with thousands more to come,” said HousingWorks Executive Director Nora Linares-Mueller. We know the 2013 and 2018 bonds created more than 8,000 jobs and ultimately long-term savings for Austin households, all while adding more than a billion dollars to Austin’s economy.

At the event, organizers are expected to discuss the positive impact of previous affordable housing bonds and what a new bond could do for Austinites.

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