How would you maximize the efficacy of the $250M affordable housing bond (assume that it passes)?

Rich DePalma

City Council, District 8

We maximize efficacy through accurate planning, improvement to city processes, a competitive RFP process, and awarding projects that leverage additional funding and take into account location benefits (i.e. transit and area activation).

Planning – The city will do well in planning what housing area it will prioritize – permanent supportive housing, housing for persons with disabilities, veterans, families with children, and chronically homeless. We must decide what efficacy means – is it the number of people helped or addressing fewer harder to serve individuals.

Improvement to City Processes – The affordable housing building process still has the challenges faced by the rest of the residential market and has additional challenges as well. The flexibility of the City is needed to prevent material cost escalations along with overall personnel costs.

Competitive Process – The approach to maximize the efficacy for the bond has some differences between housing programs but most center around creating a quarterly or semi-annual competitive proposal  process to maximize the funding impacts/housing provided. In the past, the city has not had enough money to really set up a competitive process similar to that of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs when awarding HUD funding. This process would allow an apples-to-apples comparison and move away from funding projects based on submitting a completed and sufficient application.

When the bond passes, there will be enough funding in the Rental Housing development Assistant Projects program and the Acquisition & Development Homeownership program to allow for some independence from State programs and program goals. This will allow Austin to fund projects that will address the specific housing challenges that Austin faces and the State programs do not address. The bottom line – Austin can move from a passive role to an active role in what and where affordable housing is built. We can implement the Strategic Housing Blueprint and continue to address new growth trends in each of our council districts.