How Austin is Addressing Affordable Housing Shortage

Hello again. Its been a while since we posted here. But we hope to get back to writing on a regular basis.

Since we last wrote, there has been a lot of news about affordable housing in Austin. We will not be able to cover it all, but we would like to give an overview of the current programs in place.

As has been talked about a lot lately, Austin has a significant shortfall of affordable housing. And as new development continues, the problem only worsens. In the next entry, we will present some of the ways that Austin is working to address this shortfall and how local investors and developers can get involved.

But first we want to discuss another immediate issue – transportation. As any Austinite knows, mobility is a huge problem for this city. Mobility is essential to solving Austin’s affordable housing issues. To that end, Austin recently passed Proposition 1.

Prop 1 is a $720 million transportation bond. According to the City, the money will be used to create Smart Corridors around that City (including 360 at Westlake, North and South Lamar, and East Riverside) that will allegedly improve traffic through upgraded intersections, modified signals, dedicated bicycle lanes, etc. (See Transportation Bond Details).

As far as we can tell, though, the key to the Prop 1 plan is increasing citizen’s use of buses. The theory is that getting more people to use buses for their commute will reduce the car traffic in Austin. To this end, through the transportation bond, buses will have designated lanes and there will be less parking downtown. This seems to all be part of a plan to change Austinites behavior from driving to busing to work every day. Whether this culture change takes hold is yet to be seen and a topic beyond the scope of this entry.

But public transportation in general is very necessary to solving Austin’s affordable housing problem. As more re-development occurs in areas close to downtown that once had affordable housing, lower income families are being displaced from those areas. As a result, these families are often forced to move further away from the city center and/or pay more for housing. Having public transportation, therefore, is necessary to aide Austinites’ commutes to their jobs.

To assist in this, the City is encouraging development along public transportation lines with its Austin Strategic Housing Plan – which we will discuss in the next blog entry.

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