What policies will you advocate to address the increasingly unaffordable housing, transportation, and utility costs that are economically segregating our neighborhoods?

Rich DePalma

City Council, District 8

Affordability is a concern for many and we need to enact a comprehensive and common-sense strategy to address the challenges. To create affordable housing, whether market rate or subsidized affordable housing, we must: (i) increase housing supply, (ii) address land prices, (iii) reduce cost of construction and permitting, and (iv) reduce property taxes. We must also continue to invest in land acquisition, and rental housing development assistance.

Ultimately, one of the main reasons for our high taxes is the broken public-school funding formula. Iā€™m the only candidate in the race who has testified at the state legislature on the impact the funding formula is having on affordability and on our facilities.

Other policies I support to increase affordable housing are:
1. Expand renters assistance program to meet the need of the market.
2. Expand utility assistance programs.
3. Address household costs such as affordable childcare
4. Enforce anti-discrimination laws
5. Expanding the ability to use Tax Increment Financing for affordable housing to a possible 20% affordable housing TIF policy like San Antonio or Dallas.
6. Implement public-private partnerships leveraging combinations of municipal loans, public land, HUD CDBG funding, TIF and payment in-lieu fees, nonprofit funding, and other tax incentives relating to materials and workforce. The city should determine best value through a public RFP process and not through a first in, first out grant funding process.

Regarding transportation, the City of Austin has a duty to guarantee safe, efficient, and equitable transportation options. Transportation should be addressed by making sure Austin residents have options for our daily trips to work, a store, the park, or a night out. Whether the option is car, walking, bus, rail, bike, or e-scooter; the options must be available, usable, and financially sustainable. Land use planning that includes building the density needed in transit corridors will help increase transit options, but it is certainly not enough. To relieve traffic and promote ridership, we need more Park and Rides and to expand Capital Metro service to outside of Austin. These types of measures will help make transit routes sustainable, reduce traffic coming into the city and provide additional options for downtown commutes.

Regarding utilities, I support our CAP Discounts, financial support programs, and weatherization programs. I also support moving toward a solar program (with possible layered funding from other programs) that would assist low-income individuals in adding solar to their homes where the roof, electrical, lighting and possibly mechanical also need to be upgraded.