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How can legislation improve access to affordable housing?

Linda O’Neal

City Council, District 9

While Austin is moving toward affordability with community land trusts, I think Austin can do more with a lease to purchase program and rent stabilization.  Another thing Austin should do is amend the incentives the city gives to developers to build affordable housing. The current incentives are weak and most developers pay an inexpensive fee-in-leu.  And finally, Austin needs to lobby the state, without hostility or righteousness, to allow Austin the right to regulate growth. Governor Abbott passed a law that allowed landlords to reject Section-8 vouchers, and while this was challenged in court, I think that Austin should align with non-profits and try to get this policy reversed.  This policy is blatantly discriminatory. I think that Austin leaders need to lobby real estate interests and the state to ‘ban the box’ on felons. Apartment management can refuse to lease a felon up to ten years after he or she served their time. Many of these people end up on the streets or back in the system because of the lack of housing.