Affordable Housing

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

For the first time in four years, the housing choice voucher program – formerly known as Section 8 – has reopened its waitlist to Austin residents in need of rental assistance.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Austin is slowly making progress toward becoming a more affordable city, according to a new analysis, but many residents are still finding it difficult to pay for housing.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Candace Hunter applied to live at the Reserve at Springdale as soon as she could. When the nearly 300-unit property opened last year, it brought much-needed affordable housing to East Austin.

Within the year, the complex – which houses Austinites earning 60 percent or less of the median income ($51,600 annually for a family of four) – completely filled up.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin City Council will have the chance next month to tweak the specifics of a $925 million bond package it approved last month for the Nov. 6 ballot. But the vote was not unanimous, as some council members expressed concern about the accompanying property tax hike.

Callie Hernandez for KUT

Austin City Council members have outlined a $925 million bond to pay for items such as affordable housing, park updates and road repairs that will be put to voters in November. The bond could be paid for, in part, by raising the property tax rate.

Callie Hernandez / KUT

The Austin City Council is set to vote tomorrow on adopting the city manager’s recommendation for a 2018 bond package. Austin voters would decide on whether to approve the $816 million referendum this November. 

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The road that leads to Blanca Torres' home isn't much of a road at all. It's a half-mile stretch of gravel and mud, surrounded by tall grasses. In certain parts, the road dips into stark potholes, and in others, large white rocks protrude from the earth.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Austin City Council today approved a revised version of a proposal from Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo to create a mortgage-assistance program for low-income homeowners.

The city manager will research similar programs used in other cities and return to City Council with a proposal by September.

Gabriel C. Pérez

A fund created to preserve affordable apartments in Austin has raised enough money to begin buying properties.

Affordable Central Texas is the nonprofit behind the Austin Housing Conservancy fund. President and CEO David Steinwedell says the goal is to buy 1,000 housing units over the next year.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Ben Hamill was confused. Down the street from his house in Brentwood, a building was going up, and he and his wife couldn’t quite place what it was. It looked like an apartment or a condo, as far as they could tell, with floor-to-ceiling windows, some cubist-looking eaves and all the trappings of a typical condo. Then they put up a sign: STORAGE.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The City of Austin has released a new comprehensive map of housing for low- and middle-income residents.

The digital map, known as the Affordable Housing Listing, shows an array of income-restricted housing units subsidized or incentivized by the city.

Stefan Keith for KUT

City leaders are weighing the possibility of putting an affordable housing bond on the ballot this November. A city task force is recommending a $161 million bond, but some Austin City Council members want to almost double that amount.

Jorge Sanhueza Lyon / KUT

After confusion about whether property the Alamo Drafthouse bought from the Austin Independent School District would include affordable housing, the project's architect confirmed Wednesday it's in the plans.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Austin City Council is trying to figure out how the latest draft of the proposed land development code, known as CodeNEXT, could shape the future of affordable housing.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin City Council passed a resolution Thursday that aims to help bring families displaced by gentrification back to the city.

The measure calls for giving preference for affordable housing to displaced people who have generational ties to certain neighborhoods. Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo, who wrote the resolution, calls it a “right to return” ordinance.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

Austin is often cited as one of the most economically segregated cities in the nation. Some researchers say that divide has major social and economic implications.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

When Billy Whipple was learning carpentry as a young man in New England, he got some strange advice about from a veteran carpenter.

“He had his old beliefs that holes [in houses] were good; they got you fresh air,” he says. “Now we’re so sophisticated that we manage the air.”

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Since 2000, the City of Austin has had a lot of ideas about how to slow down gentrification. A task force recommended in 2002, for example, that the city educate residents about available property tax exemptions. In 2008, City Council members asked the city manager to find city-owned land suitable for affordable housing.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

For the past several weeks, a group of nine local nonprofits, government agencies and private companies have been mapping out new solutions to the city’s housing affordability problem. Last night, they presented their ideas at the Impact Hub, a coworking space on North Lamar, which organized the effort.

Jon Shapley for KUT

A group of local nonprofits, government agencies and private companies are taking part in what’s called the Affordable Housing Accelerator to address Austin’s housing affordability issues.

Courtesy of Reba Parker

Part 2 of a series on tiny houses

Reba Parker was living in Charleston, S.C., when she first learned about the tiny-home movement. She started searching online, looking into where in the country she could legally live in a tiny home.

Spur, Texas, popped up No. 1,” Parker says. “So I flew out to Spur, checked it out, bought some land. Within a year, I was in Spur.”

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Part 1 of a two-part series on tiny homes

As Austin’s housing prices continue to climb, developers are tapping into the trend of building tiny homes.

Kasita CEO Martyn Hoffmann says the Austin-based company is hoping to make home-ownership affordable for more residents through its space-saving designs.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

The Austin City Council is moving forward with plans for the region’s first-ever fair housing assessment. The effort aims to shed light on issues of housing discrimination across Central Texas.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez

De Shaun Ealoms always dreamed of owning a home, but she wasn’t sure how she’d get there.

After her son was diagnosed with autism, Ealoms moved to Austin from Dallas to be closer to her parents. To help cover her living expenses, she signed up for Section 8, the commonly used name for the federal Housing Choice Voucher program, which helps low-income families pay rent.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

A few dozen protesters gathered in downtown Austin on Friday and marched down East Fifth Street and into the Westin hotel, where a class on investing in mobile home parks was reportedly being held.

The protesters, dressed in graduation caps and gowns, held signs calling for justice and a "diploma" from Colorado-based Mobile Home University for "unethical investment and mismanagement."

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Laura Soto, 38, sands several planks of wood that will serve as the trim for the outside of her new home. A plank of wood labeled “front porch” and another labeled “door” lie just feet from her. On a break from working, she talks color palette.

“The trim will be the rich white, the outside of the house will be darker gray, and the door will be a lighter gray and there will be an accent wall of a grayish, blue color,” she says.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

The first residents are beginning to move into new homes in Whisper Valley, a green housing development near Walter E. Long Lake in eastern Travis County.

While this type of eco-friendly housing is usually cost-prohibitive, the homes in Whisper Valley start in the low $200,000s, says Douglas Gilliland, president of the developer, Taurus of Texas.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

A popular shopping center in Northwest Austin could be redeveloped to include hundreds of apartments.

The 17-acre site, owned by Great Hills Retail Inc., currently includes a shopping center, restaurants, a movie theater and a bank. It will be up to Austin City Council to decide whether to allow for new types of development there.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

At a September meeting of the Austin Independent School District's board of trustees, almost half of the public comments weren't about academic issues. Instead, they were about housing. Students, parents, teachers and other community members were asking the board to create affordable housing at the former Allan Elementary School on the East Side.

Pavel Mezihorak for KUT

Developers that want to build low-income housing in wealthier neighborhoods should engage more with neighborhood groups to convince them of the merits of affordable housing.

That’s one recommendation in a study published today by the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan think tank.

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