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How will you help address the affordability problems in Austin?

Amit Motwani

City Council, District 3

Affordability is a multifaceted issue, with data showing that housing costs (home + utilities) are at the epicenter and tethered to food and transportation costs. The discussion around affordability is (often aptly) more heavily focused around supply of affordable housing units, and that’s often the least adaptable variable in the equation. To be clear, I support the recommendations in the Austin Strategic Housing Blueprint from 2017 and the manifold mechanisms outlined to increase housing stock by 130,000 total units (minimum 60,000 affordable housing) immediately and over the next ten years–and ASAP on publicly available land. As such, I endorse and will vote for all of the bond propositions on the ballot, with props A and E uniquely helping with affordability. However in addition to supporting increased affordable housing.

  • I would propose first increasing investment in health and human services, particularly social service navigation and coordination. affordability challenges, especially as experienced by lower income households, are often accompanied by a host of other challenges that create cyclical poverty
  • As such, support and assistance to provide immediate relief in other avenues of affordability that factor into household costs is integral to mitigating eviction risk; lower income households that struggle with affordability are often confronting more than one issue that requires immediate need and often require more profound intervention and support to solve for systemic problems that might perpetuate affordability crises (e.g. inaccessible costs of medication, food insecurity, transportation challenges, lack of access to child care precludes retention and/or attainment of employment); therefore increased investment in health and human services, particularly coordinated social service and crisis intervention support is a critical step
  • Improved access to economic opportunity is inextricable from this conversation, as improved wages would certainly mitigate potential for evictions. Intentional and coordinated efforts to bring “soft-skill” and other applicable middle-skills job training and education (and related supports as mentioned above) that weave together public (City county)/private (employers, chambers, schools, nonprofit service providers) partnerships must be fostered.
  • To be clear, rent and utility payment assistance programs + financial counseling and money management programs are foundational elements the above listed formula.
  • In the absence of full-day pre-K for 3 and 4 year olds funded by the public school system, I’d support public-private partnerships to draw down state funds to allow high quality private child care centers to house public Pre-K programs on their campuses and potentially leverage matching grants to achieve full day status, thus relieving a huge cost burden that affects all households with young children.