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Austin housing crisis: Home2 development code could impact home values in Austin neighborhoods

Austin Takes Bold Step Toward Affordability with HOME 2 Passage

Austin residents eager for a solution to the city's skyrocketing housing costs finally got some relief this week. On Friday, May ...
17th, the Austin City Council passed the highly anticipated HOME 2 changes, significantly reducing minimum lot sizes and loosening strict compatibility requirements. This move marks a major step forward in the city's fight for affordability, but the debate surrounding it highlights the complex challenges at play.

Overflowing Chambers Signal Deep Divisions
The May 16th City Council meeting considering HOME 2 was a true spectacle of civic engagement. According to Jack Craver's Austin Politics Newsletter, over 2,500 residents registered to speak, with a near even split between supporters and opponents. This passionate response underscores the deep divide within Austin's community when it comes to tackling affordability.

HOME 2 Explained: More Units, Denser Development
HOME 2, or the Home Options for Mobility and Equity amendments to the Land Development Code, builds upon the initial HOME changes passed earlier. The key takeaway this time? A significant reduction in the minimum lot size required for single-family homes. Previously, a hefty 5,750 square feet was the minimum, but with HOME 2, that number drops to a more manageable 1,800 square feet ([https://www.kut.org/austin/2024-05-17/austin-city-council-land-zoning-vote-home-phase-2](https://www.kut.org/austin/2024-05-17/austin-city-council-land-zoning-vote-home-phase-2)). This paves the way for more development on existing land, potentially leading to a surge in new housing units without urban sprawl.

Relaxing Compatibility: A Boon for Transit Corridors
The amendments also address Austin's notoriously strict neighborhood compatibility requirements. These regulations previously restricted building heights within 540 feet of single-family homes, effectively hindering growth along vital transportation corridors. However, HOME 2 reduces that buffer zone to a more reasonable 75 feet. This targeted approach allows for increased density near public transportation hubs and job centers, promoting a more walkable and sustainable city ([https://www.axios.com/local/austin/2024/05/15/housing-density-changes-city-council](https://www.axios.com/local/austin/2024/05/15/housing-density-changes-city-council)).

Supply and Demand: The Engine of Affordability
The core principle behind HOME 2 lies in basic economics. Austin's affordability crisis stems from a simple imbalance: housing demand has far outpaced supply, driving prices upwards. By facilitating the creation of more housing units – apartments, condos, and smaller single-family homes – the city hopes to tip the scales back in favor of residents.

A Cautiously Optimistic Outlook
While the long-term impact of HOME 2 remains to be seen, it represents a bold step towards affordability. Increasing supply and promoting denser development in targeted areas are crucial strategies for combating rising housing costs. The willingness of the Austin City Council to explore innovative solutions deserves recognition, but the journey towards a truly affordable Austin will likely require continued collaboration and compromise.
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