Urgent Issues Action Plan



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:


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).


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.


The community is rapidly losing existing affordable homes and apartments to gentrification, development, deterioration, and loss of subsidies.


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 Austin area.

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 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