What is your position on homestead exemptions?

Mariana Salazar

City Council, District 1

Homeowners across Austin and in District 1 are seriously worried and cost-burdened by increasing property taxes in rapidly appreciating neighborhoods. Although homestead exemptions are a tax relief for homeowners, they provide a relatively smaller benefit to homeowners of lowered-valued homes while heavily favoring households with higher-valued homes.

To assist homeowners affected by increased property taxes, I will support exploring policies that prevent our families from being pushed out of Austin. Examples of these policies include:

  • Supporting legislation for a flat-dollar-amount homestead exemption for all local taxing entities.
  • Expanding the use of community land trusts (CLT), where homeowners own the property and not the land and only pay property taxes on the property. Currently CLTs in Austin have been targeted towards new homeowners, but there is an opportunity to expand their use to serve existing homeowners interested in this shared ownership model.
  • Creating a city homestead exemption enrollment program – for people that are eligible but have not applied for their exemption, either because of lack of awareness or not knowing how to apply. This would include persons who are eligible for the senior and disability exemptions. It’s important that material and outreach for a homestead exemption program enrollment be available in other languages (other than English) to reach all our community members who do not speak English.
  • Funding a neighborhood stabilization loan program, providing low-income families with longer term assistance (lower interest rates loans) to stay in the homes.
  • Supporting education programs for vulnerable homeowners including the flipper education program that just was adopted by City Council.
  • Supporting the affordable housing bond which includes a subsidized homeownership component.

It’s important to recognize that homeowners with undocumented immigration status are ineligible to qualify for the homestead exemption because of the state requiring applicants to have state-issued IDs. For this and for many other reasons we should be supporting comprehensive immigration reform at the national level.