Austin’s population boom and market real estate conditions have put aordable housing to rent and own even further out of reach for many residents since the city set its goals in 2017.
Under those guidelines, a family of four at 80% of the median family income in the Austin area should spend about $1,846 MONTHLY on a mortgage for a home worth LESS THAN $245,000 . New homebuyers are advised to spend NO MORE THAN 28% of their monthly income before taxes on a mortgage and NO MORE THAN 36% on all debt payments including mortgage. PATH TO HOMEOWNERSHIP SOURCE: FEDERAL HOME LOAN MORTGAGE CORP.COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • income • debt and expenses • credit and cash on hand KEY CONSIDERATIONS:
C O S T I S S U E
HOME PRICES (CITY OF AUSTIN)
The median sale price of a single-family home in Austin JUMPED BY NEARLY 50% from 2017-21.
Median family income limits determine who can access aordable housing. Income levels in the Austin-Round Rock metro area JUMPED 21.5% for 100% MFI from 2017-21.
$100K $80K $60K $40K $20K 0
FAIR MARKET RENTS (AUSTIN METRO AREA) The monthly fair market rent for a one- bedroom apartment in the Austin area has INCREASED BY NEARLY 25% since 2017.
100% median income
“very low- income”
PERCENTAGE OF MEDIAN FAMILY INCOME BASED ON FOUR-PERSON HOUSEHOLD
SOURCES: AUSTIN BOARD OF REALTORS, CITY OF AUSTIN, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENTCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
remains tied up in the courts. The issue of rewriting the code has divided some residents. Some are concerned over landowners’ rights to have a say in local development and existing neighborhood qualities. Others have questioned whether a large-scale code rewrite is necessary, given the total number of houses, condos and apartments continuing to rise across town. Another segment has suggested limiting single- family zoning and focusing on denser options. Ocials have chipped away at parts of the code over the years with policies such as targeted bonus programs. Those give developers permissions such as additional height or building area in exchange for aordable housing or related fees. The city and observers have also acknowledged that Austin’s current permitting process is hindering some development. “We’ve actually seen that over the years, our fees and our development permitting times have just gone up,” said Awais Azhar, amember of the Planning Commission. “For particularly aordable housing providers and people who are working to essentially save every bit of money … the challenge then becomes that we’re adding extra costs and burdens.” Despite slow-changing policy and disappointing headway, there is still time to turn the situation around, HousingWorks Executive Director Nora Linares-Moeller said. She said whatever council
members do now can aect the city’s future progress. “We try to remind people of how dicult it is to put aordable units on the ground ... you can’t stop,” she said. Some of the city’s strategies include continuing to invest the $40 million of remaining 2018 housing bond dollars and pursuing vacant land for accessible housing. May is also hopeful the federal government will change how it assists with housing. Where this leaves Austinites Whether backed by the city or nonprots and private developers, new aordable projects are breaking ground each year. Private developments such as The Quincy and Aura on Lamar, two apartment complexes in the MLK Station area, and Pathways at Goodrich Place developed by the city housing authority, have recently added aordable units. For residents in need of less costly spaces, the city’s focus on aordability can prove essential to keeping them in town. Maryse Sae, who owns a home in the Mueller district, said she feels like she “won the lottery.” “I think my experience is fairly rare, and I am conscious of that and grateful every day,” Sae said. But while the city continues to grow, housing prices are not easing up, a fact analysts said will further drive the need for more of this type of housing. “Whether you realize it or not, it aects you,”
Linares-Moeller said. “We’re talking about neighborhood workers, people that should be able to live close to their jobs just like you. If you start to look at who needs housing that’s aordable, you will be surprised at how people who are members of your family and people that work in your local stores are the people that are most aected.” Azhar said the issue shouldmatter to all residents, regardless of income. “If you’re a taxpayer, if you’re someonewhowants to see a city function in the best way, there’s things we should be wanting,” Azhar said. “For example, having those housing opportunities for folks is critical for economic growth.” Despite earning what he considers a “decent” income, former Austin resident John Halverson said rising rental prices over the years forced him and his wife to frequently move around the city, trying to nd a place they could aord. They ultimately moved back to Montana where he said they hope to get a nancial foothold and start a family. “We have somewhere we can aord to live that still gives us a path to the middle class,” he said. “I know most aren’t as lucky.”
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