Affordable Housing

Rising Property Values
3:36 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Can Anything Be Done to Lower Austin's Property Taxes?

Many people in Travis County were shocked to learn how much their property values – and consequently, their property taxes – might go up this year.
flickr.com/polymerchemist

The deadline to file a protest regarding your property tax appraisal is fast approaching – Monday, June 2.

Many people in Travis County are shocked to learn how much their property values – and consequently, their property taxes ­– might go up this year. County officials say valuations have risen roughly 15 percent on average this year. But as seen in this local Reddit discussion, many homeowners are facing 25 percent and 30 percent increases ­– and higher.

Sticker shock is so prevalent, Travis County Commissioners say their phones haven't stopped ringing from residents calling, asking for help. 

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Austin & Affordability
6:06 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Do Austinites Have Choices When it Comes to Housing?

A line of houses in the Mueller Development.
flickr.com/gjmj

If you live or work in the City of Austin, have you asked yourself why you chose to work or live where you do? Well, the City of Austin wants to know the answers to those questions to help plan for the future.

The city is conducting a “housing choice survey.” But with the current shortage of housing, do Austinites have any real choice in where they live?

Word on the street is that Austinites have very few housing choices. At least, that’s what rapper “Blind Man” says as he finds his way with his cane to a bench on East 11th Street.

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Austin
11:45 am
Thu March 27, 2014

Austin's Rent is the Most Expensive in Texas

flickr.com/milestonemanagement

This story was co-reported with Reporting Texas, a project of UT Austin's School of Journalism.

Once again, Austin has landed at the top of another list. But this one doesn’t put the city in the best light.

In Austin, the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,074 per month – the highest in Texas. That amount is $202 more than the average fair market rent for the state.

The figure comes from the National Low Income Housing Coalition's annual “Out of Reach” report, which details how much it costs to live in different metropolitan areas around the United States.

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urban development
7:26 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Austin Considers Measure Aimed at Lowering Cost of Tiny Apartments

Removing off-street parking requirements for apartments under 500 square feet could make them more affordable, advocates say.
https://flic.kr/p/4sG5xG

The City of Austin could remove off-street parking space requirements for developers who build some apartments smaller than 500 square feet – dwellings known as "micro-units." Advocates say it could encourage development of the micro-units along public transit corridors.

"We're talking about 300- or 400-square-foot apartments. Is there a market for that? In some cities, it looks like there has been," Council Member Bill Spelman said Tuesday during a council work session. "This is another way of simply reducing the cost. The whole thing is really about affordable housing." 

City code requires most residential developments to have at least one off-street parking space per unit. Council removed most of those requirements for downtown businesses last year. 

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Austin City Council
10:13 am
Fri February 14, 2014

Austin City Council Votes to Lower Occupancy Limits

The Austin City Council passed regulations to limit occupants in single-family homes from six to four last night on first reading.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

The Austin City Council had a long day at the dais yesterday, with a meeting that sputtered along for the better part of 15 hours.

"Stealth dorms," fee waivers, economic incentives, an officer-involved shooting, the MoPac sound wall and  even a proclamation for KUT's own Cactus Cafe. 

With that in mind, here's a rundown of the council action, and inaction, from yesterday.

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Austin
10:18 am
Thu February 13, 2014

City Council Poised to Decide on 'Stealth Dorm' Regulations

The Dove Springs neighborhood has many homes that could be considered "stealth dorms" under a new occupancy reduction ordinance.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

The city of Austin limits the number of unrelated adults who can live in a single-family home. Right now, that limit is six.

But there’s a push before the Austin City Council to lower that number to four.  The Austin City Council meets today to decide whether to impose new rules that would lower occupancy limits – and do away with what some call “stealth dorms.”

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Austin
1:35 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Will Occupancy Limits Aimed at 'Stealth Dorms' Hurt Austin Affordability?

Austin's Planning Commission voted last night to lower occupancy limits for unrelated roommates from six to four.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

A fight pitting affordable housing against neighborhood quality is headed to the Austin City Council.

Austin’s Planning Commission is recommending a reduction in the number of unrelated adults allowed to live together in single-family homes: the maximum would fall from six down to four.

Last night’s action was in response to complaints that neighborhoods were suffering from what opponents call “stealth dorms.”

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Micro-units
10:30 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Tiny Apartments Could Be Big Answer to Austin's Housing Crunch

A micro-unit development in Seattle. Austin is calling for a zoning study to ensure micro-units don’t face big hurdles.
Seattle Department of Planning & Development

Micro-units – apartments of 500 square feet or less – might be Austin's next big building trend.

As the city's population continues to climb, troubles have mounted with providing affordable housing. To address the issue, the Austin City Council is asking the city manager to study the feasibility of micro-unit projects.

"Micro-units will allow people to live closer to downtown at a more affordable cost," says council member Bill Spelman.

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Election 2013
10:57 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Austin Voters OK $65 Million Affordable Housing Bond by Wide Margin

Apartments at M Station, an affordable apartment complex financed and operated by nonprofit Foundation Communities.
Wells Dunbar for KUT News

Election day returns show Austin’s $65 million affordable housing bond passing by a wide margin, with nearly 61 percent of voters approving the measure.

It’s the second time in a year affordable housing has been on the ballot in Austin. Last year, a similar bond proposition was narrowly defeated.

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Election
7:37 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Early Voting Underway: What Voters Need to Know for the Nov. 5 Election (Update)

The Travis County Clerk's office has launched a campaign, "Keep Calm and Vote On", to educate voters on the new voter ID law.
KeepCalmVoteOn.org

Updated Friday, November 1 at 7:37am: Early voting ends today for the Nov. 5 election.

There are 19 early voting locations in Travis County and several mobile locations.

What's On the Ballot:

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Affordable Housing
10:42 am
Tue October 29, 2013

Are Bonds Austin's Best Way to Support Affordable Housing?

If approved, a $65 million bond proposition would go toward building, renovating and funding affordable housing projects.
flickr.com/dragontomato

This November, Austinites are being asked to approve a $65 million affordable housing bond. The money would go toward building and renovating affordable housing projects; purchasing land to build affordable housing on; and funding of ongoing affordable housing initiatives. You can see a sample ballot here.

But it was just one year ago that voters rejected a similar bond proposition.

With that recent loss, some have asked whether issuing tax-supported municipal bonds is the best way to fund affordability in Austin.

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Development
4:58 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Colony Park: Can Austin Transform a Community Without Displacing it?

Residents in Colony Park expressed concern over the weekend about the possible gentrification of the neighborhood as the city develops the area.
Carrie Powell for KUT News

A new master plan for the Colony Park neighborhood will use a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in an effort to revitalize the area. The project resembles the planning of Mueller in scope and ambition, but some residents are concerned the project might eventually displace them.

At a Saturday community engagement meeting, residents in the Colony Park area said they were concerned the city might move on to implementation of the plan without their approval.

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Austin
10:50 am
Tue October 15, 2013

Do Austin Policies Help or Hurt Affordable Housing?

The Austin City Council recently OK'd putting a $65 million affordable housing bond to voters this November.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

Austin’s the fastest-growing large city in the country.

All of the city’s socio-economic groups are growing – from the very affluent to people with lower incomes. It’s those low-income Austinites who struggle to find housing as prices climb higher.

Starting next week, Austin voters will decide whether to approve $65 million in bonds to pay for affordable housing initiatives. But regardless of the election results, the need is not likely to go away soon.

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Veterans
9:28 am
Fri October 4, 2013

America's Oldest Veteran Lives in Austin. What Happened to Him Yesterday Will Make You Smile

107-year-old Richard Overton relaxes on his front lawn. Yesterday, dozens of volunteers fixed the East Austin home Overton’s lived in since 1945.
Mark Gwin for KUT News

A diverse group of volunteers braved the heat Thursday to upgrade the residence of 107-year-old World War II veteran Richard Overton – the country’s oldest living World War II veteran.

The East Austin house has been Overton's home since he built it in 1945, when he returned from war. And though he’s done some upgrades over the years, it was beginning to have some serious issues: broken windows, a failing refrigerator and more.

But then a team of several dozen volunteers came to fix it all.

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Affordable Housing
8:46 am
Thu October 3, 2013

Learn More About Austin's $65 Million Affordable Housing Vote Tonight

Affordable housing bond dollars would go to new construction, rental assistance, home ownership initiatives and repair programs.
flickr.com/dymllc

A year after voters narrowly rejected the proposal, the Austin City Council is once again asking voters to approve tens of millions of dollars for affordable housing.

The City of Austin will host the first of four community information sessions today about this November’s $65 million affordable housing bond.

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Affordable Housing
5:10 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

These 'Affordable' Apartments Operate Tax Free. Too Bad They Have the Most Code Violations in Austin

The walkway leading to Oak Hollow resident William Towne’s apartment was redone a couple of months ago. But the wood was untreated and is already curling up. Chipping paint is very common throughout the complex.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Oak Hollow is a community of 429 apartments in northwest Austin. It’s operated as affordable housing by a group called American Opportunity for Housing.

Built in 1972, keeping up a property like Oak Hollow can be expensive. The main source of income for American Opportunity for Housing is rent. And as a nonprofit, the community has a 100 percent tax exemption. The City of Austin estimates, over the last decade, that it has foregone upwards of $1 million in taxes from Oak Hollow.

But it’s a property with a reputation among renters’ advocates.

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Affordable Housing
4:17 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

Affordable Housing Advocates Call for Vote on $65 Million Bond

Apartments at M Station, an affordable apartment complex financed and operated by nonprofit Foundation Communities.
Wells Dunbar, KUT News

Austin voters will likely be asked to approve bond dollars for affordable housing, after a similar proposition was voted down in last November.

On Monday, city council members Sheryl Cole, Bill Spelman and Chris Riley, along with housing advocates from Keep Austin Affordable, announced their support for a $65 million bond program on the November 2013 ballot. They said the spending could finance more affordable housing – without raising the tax rate.

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Austin
5:48 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

Chamber of Commerce Looks to Reinvigorate Austin's 'Brand'

Members of the Austin Chamber of Commerce met on June 6 to discuss the city's future.
Luke Quinton, KUT News

Is Austin's "brand" being diluted? 

The Austin Chamber of Commerce had a round-table discussion today that asked exactly that. The consensus was upbeat, but Jack McDonald, CEO of Silverback Enterprise Group, said a lack of affordable housing will be a more serious concern this decade ahead.

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Austin
1:54 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

Under One Roof: Listeners React to KUT's Affordable Housing Series

KUT's listeners have their say on affordable housing in Austin.
flickr.com/speedye

Last week KUT News spent some time looking at affordable housing in Austin in "Under One Roof: Affordable Housing 101." We got into the nuts and bolts of how nonprofit developers build affordable housing for low-income Austinites and why it’s in such short supply.

We heard from quite a few people about this series and about some of the other issues around affordable housing as well.

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AFFORDABLE HOUSING 101
6:05 am
Fri May 24, 2013

Under One Roof: Where Is the Public and Political Will for Affordable Housing?

Callie Hernandez for KUT News

Under One Roof, Part Four: The Politics

For many, Election Night 2012 was a great night.

At the Driskill Hotel, Travis County Democrats toasted President Obama’s victory. But Walter Moreau with Foundation Communities, one of Austin’s largest affordable-housing providers, wasn’t celebrating.

“All the other bonds passed, so it’s hard to say why …” Moreau began.

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