The City of Austin is experiencing dramatic growth and is in the midst of the worst housing crisis since its founding. This crisis is the result of Austin’s history of racism, segregation, and displacement, an outdated land development code, and residents’ continued resistance to increasing housing stock. As Austin’s population continues to have record growth year after year, the benefits of the economic boom are not shared by all Austinites–low to moderate income residents are continually pushed out due to a lack of affordable housing in the neighborhoods they grew up in, near their places of employment, or near transportation and other preferred amenities. With this in mind, the Austin Housing Coalition (AHC) works towards and advocates to ensure that Austin remains a diverse, affordable, and inclusive city by supporting all types of housing for all kinds of people in all parts of town.
In accordance with the Coalition’s mission, vision, and strategic plan, the following policy positions are intended to provide clear guidance to members and stakeholders regarding AHC’s stance on key policy and programmatic issues that impact the supply and preservation of affordable housing and ensure that residents live in safe, quality homes.
- Ensuring adequate funding for the construction and preservation of affordable housing through all Local, State, Federal, Private, and Philanthropic means.
- Adequately providing funding, resources, and support for the City’s Housing and Planning and Development Services Departments to effectively manage and grow affordable housing resources.
- Aligning affordable housing investments with the following core values:
- AFFORDABILITY: Working to ensure that residents do not pay more than 30% of their income on housing, and programmatically that housing be affordable for the spectrum of individuals and families, both renters and homeowners, who cannot afford market-rate housing in Austin. This includes additional targeting for deeply affordable housing units and subsidies and incentives appropriate to meet these levels of affordability.
- ELIMINATE HOMELESSNESS: Addressing the homelessness crisis by advocating for increased resources to support data-driven housing interventions tailored to meet the needs of Austin’s most vulnerable community-members.
- LONG-TERM AFFORDABILITY: Housing that maintains affordability for 40 to 99 years.
- PRESERVATION: Helping residents remain stably housed by allocating adequate resources to the rehabilitation of existing income-restricted and naturally occurring affordable housing stock – to maintain their affordability – and assisting residents with resources to remain in their homes.
- GEOGRAPHIC EQUITY: Reversing both de jure and de facto segregation by developing and preserving housing in all parts of town that provides Austinites opportunities and choice to safe, quality housing, education, mobility and transportation access, health and environment, and green spaces regardless of race, household type, income, disability, etc.
- RIGHT TO STAY/RIGHT TO RETURN – Implementing specific strategies and tools to help both renters and homeowners who are at-risk of displacement or have been displaced by systemically discriminatory policies and actions remain in or return to their communities.
- ACCESSIBILITY – Ensuring existing and future housing stock prioritizes and adequately meets the needs of individuals with disabilities and provides opportunities to live in integrated communities and to age in place
- TENANTS’ RIGHTS – Supporting the rights and protections of all tenants, including but not limited to:
- right to a habitable home,
- right to choose where to live,
- right to equal treatment and protection from discrimination,
- right of first refusal with regards to purchasing property,
- right to counsel,
- right to just-cause eviction policy,
- right to organize
- Continuing to encourage and ensure governmental partners at the City, County, and State level are developing and prioritizing long-term strategic plans for investment in affordable housing including annual reviews, accountability, and prioritizing funding towards development opportunities and capacity building.
- Supporting and advocating for affordable housing incentive programs, such as Density Bonus and Affordability Unlocked, to maximize the production of affordable units by private developers across the city.
- Prioritizing the development of affordable housing using existing publicly owned land to maximize housing opportunities through strategies such as public-private partnerships, community land trusts, and tax-increment financing.
- Supporting the implementation of source of income protections for all rental subsidies and development incentive programs and working towards ending landlord discrimination for people who receive rental assistance.
- Reforming City review processes, fee waivers and other incentives to shorten the permitting, zoning and development timelines and increase the supply of affordable housing.
- Fair Housing: The Coalition upholds in its policy and advocacy work the Fair Housing Act, with expanded protections for sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status and veterans, and supports the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule.
(Ausitn Housing Coalition Policy Principles, Approved September 2021)