A respected University of Texas study has found that Austin is the only high-growth city that is losing African Americans, both in terms of numbers and percentage of the total population. Do you consider this a problem? If so, what would you do to reverse or stabilize the decline?

Danielle Skidmore

City Council, District 9

I absolutely consider this to be a problem. Fair housing is the cornerstone of a diverse community, and to retain the diversity of our city, we need to improve affordability and equity in Austin—that means making more room for people in the core of our city. We have to ensure that making this space comes from a real and tangible commitment to affordable housing, and a commitment that creation of said housing will minimize displacement of current residents. Garage apartments or granny-flats, for example, can be a useful tool to enable people to stay in their homes, by renting out ADUs (accessory dwelling units) as an additional source of income. This mitigates displacement in neighborhoods and prevents the City from pushing people out. In terms of bringing in a diverse population and supporting renters, we must also build more affordable housing—particularly on underutilized land owned by the city. I will be representing District 9, but I am also representing all of Austin; if we want to decrease gentrification pressures on the East Side and sprawl on the outskirts of our city, we have to make space in places that can afford to do so… this necessarily includes Austin’s central neighborhoods. From a social justice standpoint, and from an environmental standpoint, we must practice what we preach in living our Austin values.