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Podcast examines how Austin evolved from a sleepy college town to a hot housing market

“Growth Machine: How Austin Engineered its Housing Market” investigates a century of decisions that contributed to segregation and unaffordability

AUSTIN, Texas – July 26, 2023 – How did Austin go from a sleepy college town to one of the hottest housing markets in the country? The podcast “Growth Machine: How Austin Engineered its Housing Market” takes a deep dive into the century of choices that brought us here.

Housing prices in Austin have exploded in the past decade, leading to a city that’s not just unaffordable — but also highly segregated. None of this happened by accident. It’s the result of decades of decisions about what — if anything — gets built in Austin and where. From a master plan to move Black and brown residents to one part of town, to fights over how to protect the environment, to an outdated land development code — all of these are pieces in a machine that’s engineered Austin’s housing market.

A seven-episode series, “Growth Machine” delivers an illuminating history of Austin – from how I-35 was built; to the birth of the Save Our Springs ordinance and the resulting political movement; to how marketing and tax incentives gave rise to “Silicon Hills”; to a battle over an outdated land development code.

KUT News’ Audrey McGlinchy, who has reported on Austin government and housing since 2015, hosts the series, with reporting from colleagues Nathan Bernier, Mose Buchele, Marisa Charpentier and Jimmy Maas.

“If you’ve ever wondered why it’s so hard to build in West Austin or why housing prices have gotten so dang expensive – we hope to provide some historical context,” explains McGlinchy. “The story of Austin is growth. People move here every day. And the city gets bigger and bigger, not just the population but also the geography. The way we as a city have handled this growth, the direction in which the city has grown – that’s the bigger story.”

The series features Austin voices from the past and present, including Donald Dallas, co-founder of the Black Austin Coalition and a 5th-generation Austinite; Mayor Kirk Watson; city council member and East Austinite Natasha Harper-Madison; Bill Bunch, Executive Director at Save Our Springs Alliance; and many more who will help listeners understand how – and why – Austin is changing.

Growth Machine: How Austin Engineered its Housing Market” is a production of KUT and KUTX Studios and available on all podcast platforms.


Media contact: Erin Geisler (512) 475-8071