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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?

Kathie Tovo

City Council, District 9

Austin has a responsibility to fight gentrification and displacement and provide affordable housing opportunities. I have worked extensively on these issues during my time on Council, including by (among other things):

  • Voting to place a $250 million affordable housing bond on the ballot for voter approval this year.
  • Voting for the Strategic Housing Blueprint and the Strategic Direction
  • Leading Council in expanding the amount of money transferred to the Housing Trust Fund to create and preserve affordable housing, which is fully funded for the first time in the recently passed FY19 budget.
  • Directing the City Manager to identify underutilized City property that we can develop for affordable housing.
  • Creating financial mechanisms to help form affordable residential cooperatives.
  • Exploring enactment of a “right to return” policy for long-term residents at risk of displacement.
  • Directing creation of a “strike fund” to purchase naturally occurring affordable rental housing.
  • Serving as Council representative on Austin’s Anti-Displacement Team as part of the PolicyLink grant.
  • Implementing more reasonable payment plans for people behind on utility payments.

In addition to these accomplishments, I have consistently pushed for more aggressive affordable housing requirements when such items have come before Council (as in Planned Unit Development rezoning cases) and have supported leveraging public- private partnerships for affordable housing (as the recent item transferring a city-owned  property to the Austin Housing Finance Corporation for development by the Clarksville Community Development Corporation).

Going forward, I will continue to push for progress on affordable housing, such as exploring ways to expand our affordable housing bonus program so that we can secure affordable housing units as we realize the Imagine Austin vision of adding density on our corridors and in our centers as well as strengthening our ability to get affordable housing instead of accepting fees in lieu. I am particularly interested in seeing an affordable housing development get started on a city-owned tract —perhaps the Health South tract Downtown and just blocks from the medical school and new hospital.