Advocates Push for Affordable Housing as Austin Booms
With the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Austin coming in at $963, and the apartment occupancy rate at about 95 percent, it’s no secret that finding affordable housing in the city can be difficult. For those Austinites who make $7.25 an hour, also known as minimum wage, it’s almost impossible – that $963 would eat up 3/4 of a month's take-home pay.
“The affordability crisis in Austin hasn’t gone away. We’re still in the Top 5 hottest housing markets and the Top 10 most expensive rental markets in the United States,” said Elliott McFadden, campaign manager for Keep Austin Affordable. “Lower income folks are really getting squeezed.”
In the 2012 election, Proposition 15, which would have set aside almost $80 million in bond money for affordable housing programs, was voted down by about 2 percent. Proponents, like McFadden, say the money would have helped build more housing units and allowed non-profits to raise hundreds of millions of dollars more in grant and federal funding, so this year, they’re not taking any chances and are educating voters on the subject early.
Keep Austin Affordable is a coalition of business, faith and community leaders pushing for an affordable housing bond package this fall. The group is hoping to continue the success Austin saw with the 2006 housing bond package of $55 million that created more than 3,600 affordable housing units and brought in $200 million in additional outside funding. That money ran out at the end of last year, and then Proposition 15 failed, leaving these programs in the lurch.