Affordable housing has become precious in Austin.
- Average single-family home prices rose more than 120 percent to $194,200
between 1990 and 2000. Average rents increased an average of 7 percent every
year between 1990 and 1999, rising to $872 for a two-bedroom, two-bath unit
in December 1999.
- Roughly half of area residents cannot afford its moderately priced housing.
Only 53 percent of households earn sufficient incomes to afford the median-priced
home. Though that is close to the national level of 51 percent, it is lower
than other major cities in Texas and has steadily declined in recent years.
These are conservative figures because they assume all households have adequate
credit records and the ability to make a 20 percent down payment.
- Renters are also challenged to afford Austin rental rates. Half of all
renters in the Austin metropolitan area could also not afford the average
two-bedroom apartment at $820 per month while paying only 30 percent of
their income for housing - the federal housing affordability standard. An
Austin renter needed to earn at least $16 per hour to afford the average
rent in 2000. Earning minimum wage, a person would have to work 112 hours
per week and meet the federal affordability standard.
The Affordable Housing Committee considered three issues as the most urgent
in affordable housing. Members developed strategies and suggestions for community
leaders to undertake to improve housing choice in Austin. The Committee included
options targeted specifically to assist extremely low-income residents because
they are the most vulnerable members of the Austin community. A summary follows:
LACK OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING
There is a significantly inadequate amount of affordable housing in our community
due to a lack of: (1) corporate incentives to increase affordable housing;
(2) development/ building capacity focused on affordable housing; and (3)
proactive policies (appropriately zoned land, dedicated resources, and an
efficient development and review process).
INCREASE AWARENESS OF HOUSING CRISIS
Too many policy makers and community members are not fully aware of the extent
or complexity of the affordable housing crisis in our region and the impact
of "Not In My Backyard" (NIMBY) attitude.
PRESERVE EXISTING AFFORDABLE HOUSING
The community is rapidly losing existing affordable homes and apartments
to gentrification, development, deterioration, and loss of subsidies.
THE PLANNING PROCESS
The Affordable Housing Planning Committee efforts built upon the research
and recommendations of three recent community reports on affordable housing.
The 1999 "Austin's Commitment to House the Poor" report by the Texas
Low Income Housing Information Service describes in detail low-income housing
programs currently available. The second is the 1999 "Through the Roof,"
a CAN report on housing affordability. The third is 1999 CAN Housing Assessment,
which discusses housing quality, availability, and affordability issues. Each
of these reports offers recommendations for improving housing choice in the
Recommendations from all three reports were summarized, and a group of approximately
40 stakeholders gathered to review the research and set priorities. Members
of this CAN Affordable Housing Planning Committee represent non-profit organizations,
realtors, higher education organizations, City and County government, housing
authorities, lenders, consultants, private developers, and planning organizations.
THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING MATRIX
The attached matrix presents the urgent issues, solutions, and recommended
actions for each objective. Programs that address the problem are named, and
opportunities for investments are listed. The Community's task is to expand
the affordability, availability, and accessibility of good quality housing.
The matrix is intended to be a straightforward tool to help with those tasks.
Contact the Committee through Roger Arriaga with the City of Austin.
2001 Urgent Issues Action Plan Home Page