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Affordable housing is a major problem in Austin. Large numbers of people who work in Austin cannot afford to live in Austin. Many families are moving outside the city to find affordable housing. Do you have any ideas to help create more affordable housing or to make existing housing more affordable?

Mariana Salazar

City Council, District 1

Yes, I have some ideas to help create more affordable housing. These include:

– Supporting 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, – The 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).

– Implementing the highest impact interventions highlighted in the Austin Strategic Blueprint (e.g. expanding the use of community land trusts, developing a strike fund, undertaking strategic land banking, providing additional local appropriations to affordable housing, and streamlining City codes and permit processes).

– Knowing that the bulk of new housing developments have been happening in East Austin, and East Austin already has more than its fair share of subsidized housing, more equitably distributing multifamily development and affordable housing throughout all parts of the city – especially west of I-35.

To make existing housing more affordable, we can explore:

  • Preserving existing affordable structures, as the cost for building new housing is significantly more expensive than the cost of maintaining existing housing. Options include providing home repair subsidies to maintain these structures.
  • Initiating and promoting Neighborhood Empowerment Zones, giving a tax break to multi-family properties that provide affordable housing opportunities for families.
  • Supporting legislation for a flat-dollar-amount homestead exemption for all local taxing entities.
  • 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.