Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Rising Home Prices Limit City's Floodplain Buyouts

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon for KUT
A home along Onion Creek damaged in the 2013 Halloween floods.

Austin City Council members are beginning to approve the last batch of homes in the Williamson Creek flood buyout program. But the strength of the Austin housing market means the entire process has become more expensive.

Austin home prices are rising. The Austin Board of Realtors says the median price for a home is now more than $250,000.

“You know about the Austin market,” says Mapi Vigil with the City’s Watershed Department.

Austin housing prices also affect the city’s ability to buy homes – specifically, homes in floodplains that are part of the city’s buyout program. Austin City Council members heard Thursday that $18 million approved last year to buy 63 homes would not be enough. Council Member Delia Garza was thrown off.

“I was operating under the assumption that we weren’t going to have to add any more funding. So that I guess throws a wrench in my intention of what I was going to do,” Garza said.

Home prices are up, so the city has to spend more to buy those houses in the floodplain. Plus, the buyout program includes a relocation package. The city must find each family a similar home to move into, and has committed to paying the difference between the flood-damaged home and this new one. City staff say right now they only have money to fund 45 of the 63 homes in the Williamson Creek 25-year floodplain. But the program is optional. So some homeowners might decide to stay, which wouldn't cost the city any money.

Audrey McGlinchy is KUT's housing reporter. She focuses on affordable housing solutions, renters’ rights and the battles over zoning. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @AKMcGlinchy.
Related Content