“All Austinites deserve the opportunity to share in our city’s success. Yet too many residents have been left behind in recent years, including thousands of hardworking families and individuals who now struggle to afford Austin’s sharply rising cost of living. Unfortunately, Texas law prohibits cities from enacting livable wage ordinances for private employers above the federal minimum and also prohibits many common affordable housing tools, including rent stabilization, linkage fees and inclusionary zoning.
While higher rents and housing costs have received the most attention, affordability also includes expenses for transportation, utilities and other basic needs. Austin must employ a multi-pronged approach to help regain affordability for all households and decrease economic segregation, including affordable housing in all parts of town along with anti-displacement programs to preclude and slow gentrification, a functional multi-modal transit system, and utility rates that account for affordability such as the Austin Water Utility rate review that I sponsored while on City Council.