Affordable Housing In Tough Spot
Austin’s Housing Authority is trying to figure out what to do after the failure of Proposition 15, which would have provided $78 million for permanent and transitional housing.
The Housing Authority has programs that further education for low-wage workers, helping to increase their salaries. That gives graduates of these programs more to spend on rent. But Mike Gerber, the Housing Authority president, says it’s not just a matter of affordability. He says Austin needs more places to live.
“Poverty is here, it’s real in our city, and we need to do more to address affordable housing in particular,” Gerber said. “It means putting roofs over people’s heads, and the only way you can do that with a city that’s expanding and seeing our number of people in poverty expanding is to build more.”
Without Proposition 15, Gerber’s not sure how to do that, and he’s asking the city for help. Austin Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole says there’s no easy solution.
“We know Austin is quickly becoming two Austins, a very prosperous Austin and a very challenged Austin,” Cole said. “So we have to do something to stem that tide. The urgency of the situation is not lost on city leaders.”
The Housing Authority owns almost 2,000 rental units, and provides vouchers for another 5,000 private units.