As the Austin City Council looks at ways to combat gentrification and promote more affordable housing ahead of a proposed transit expansion, a new mapping tool is providing a sense of where things stand now.
The tool shows 25% of the city’s 26,663 affordable housing units are within a quarter-mile of a proposed Project Connect transit stop, and 58% are within a half-mile.
The analysis also shows that close to 5,000 units are set to lose their affordability status within the next five years. About half of those are in close proximity to proposed Project Connect stops.
The maps, developed by the city’s Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department, were unveiled during a Housing and Planning Committee meeting on Tuesday.
“Our goal ... is to identify these properties early enough, and to see what we can do as part of our investment strategy to effectuate the extension of the affordability period,” said Mandy De Mayo, the department’s community development administrator.
The Project Connect package, which will be on the ballot in November, includes $300 million aimed at reducing gentrification and displacement. Roughly half of the city’s income-restricted affordable housing units are in neighborhoods vulnerable to gentrification, the mapping analysis found.
“As we increase transportation options in this city, obviously there’s the risk or the challenge of gentrification and dislocation, and to be affirmatively fighting back against that is exciting to see,” Mayor Steve Adler said during the meeting.
Adler also pointed out that more than 11,000 units of affordable housing are already in development before the Project Connect vote. Neighborhood Housing and Community Development has also acquired land for affordable housing projects with funding from a $250 million housing bond voters approved in 2018.
“My hope is we do actually double the amount of affordable housing the city provides here in the next few years,” said Council Member Greg Casar, who chairs the Housing and Planning Committee. “To double what we've done in our whole history ... I think would actually start addressing the need we see in the community.”
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