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High Austin Land Prices Pose A Challenge For Habitat For Humanity

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT
A Habitat for Humanity wall-raising ceremony in Austin in 2018.

From Texas Standard:

A new Harvard University study on the state of the nation’s housing found that rapidly escalating land prices make construction of low-cost housing a challenge for many cities. Land prices have increased dramatically in Central Texas in recent years, making it difficult for nonprofits to provide affordable housing to low-income families.

Phyllis Snodgrass is CEO of Austin Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit that builds affordable housing. The organization serves a five-county area around Austin and aims to house families within their current community.

“There are homes that we have built in the periphery around the Austin area,” Snodgrass says. “But we really don't want to push families working and living in Austin to those areas. … We don't want to take cost-burdened families who are trying to live and work somewhere close together and put them at really long distances and away from all the services that they might need.”

Snodgrass says Habitat lobbies the city for policies that would allow for the building of more low-income housing, but that's not all.

“We basically have to have an all-of-the-above strategy," Snodgrass says. “We actively solicit partnerships with developers and builders. We're out there pitching it constantly because the way we're going to get into neighborhoods is have beautiful product that people are not afraid of, and demonstrate our ability to deliver on [that] product.”

Habitat recently broke ground on its first multifamily housing project in Austin's Mueller neighborhood. 

Written by Antonio Cueto.

Texas Standard reporter Joy Diaz has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work in public media reporting. Prior to joining Texas Standard, Joy was a reporter with Austin NPR station KUT on and off since 2005. There, she covered city news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.
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