What can the city do to lower average rents or at least decrease the rate of growth of average rents?

Mariana Salazar

City Council, District 1

Increased rents are forcing many of our working families, students, seniors, artists and other renters out of the city. Increased rents make it extremely difficult for persons experiencing homelessness to connect back to housing. Many of our neighbors are having to live further out, substantially increasing their commute time, reducing their quality of life and having limited access to the resources they need to thrive. Others are spending exorbitantly more than 30% of their income on housing and more than 45% of their income on housing and transportation combined – truly representative of a cost-burdened lifestyle.

To lower average rents or at least decrease the rate of growth of average rents we should:

  • Support the $250 million affordable housing bond to go to the ballot in November. I support its four different components:

– The Rental Housing Development Assistance (RHDA) Program, – Acquisition & Development (A&D) Homeownership Program, – Land Acquisition for affordable housing development, and – Home Repair Program (allows people to stay in their homes and addresses their rising cost of housing).

  • Facilitate the construction of more units. We keep attracting new employers and jobs but our housing is not growing fast enough to meet the demands of our growing population. The city can facilitate construction of more units by removing barriers like minimum lot size and parking requirements. The city can upzone desired areas to vertical mixed use, can remove or reduce height restrictions around single family developments especially along Imagine Austin corridors as they restrict density. The city must also have a more time-efficient review process to reduce the burden on construction due to delays or long review time.
  • Build and expand access to subsidized units – the city can promote the development of more subsidized units. For example, I support increasing the requirements for the affordable housing density bonus programs to produce more affordable units at all levels of affordability (including 30% MFI). Overall, now that CodeNext is not moving forward, the city needs to recalibrate the different density bonus programs incentives to encourage more affordable housing development or considerable higher fees-in-lieu for developing housing.
  • Preserve existing affordable structures, as the cost for new housing is more expensive than existing affordable housing structures. Options include home repair subsidies to maintain these structures or extending affordability periods for those buildings for which the affordability period are about to expire.
  • Initiating and promoting Neighborhood Empowerment Zones, giving a tax break to multi-family properties that provide affordable housing opportunities for families.