June 1, 2023
Eliminate Occupancy Limits – City of Austin Land Development Code
Our organizations are writing in support of eliminating Austin’s policy of regulating
occupancy by familial status, as the current rules around occupancy limits are
discriminatory and are making Austin less affordable for many households.
As the City Council is well aware, Austin continues to face a housing crisis: 34% of Austinites are cost-burdened by housing, and 15% are severely so. These numbers exclude the huge numbers of households who have already left Austin due to rising housing costs over the past several decades. The City is currently struggling to meet its 10-year housing goals, including falling behind its housing unit development goals at all income levels. With high interest rates and materials costs, new housing, while important, has faced price increases and delays over the past several years, making it even harder for Austin to reach its goals.
Eliminating occupancy limits would do a huge amount to allow Austinites greater flexibility and affordability in their housing choices immediately, without costing the City or taxpayers anything. Groups such as students, the disabled, elderly, immigrants, unhoused and LGBTQIA+ households, who often seek to live in cooperative housing or together with roommates, would specifically benefit from this policy change, and are discriminated against under the current occupancy limits policy. For those who are low-income and cannot live on their own, or who struggle to find existing market rate or affordable housing that suits their needs, the option to live cooperatively or with roommates could be the difference between being unhoused and being sheltered.
Notably, occupancy limits related to health and safety are already codified in the City’s Building Code, so limits based on number of adults who may share a bedroom (3) and space needed for the health and safety of each household member would remain in place if occupancy limits based on familial status were removed. San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston already regulate occupancy through health and safety alone, not based on familial status.
We urge the Council to prioritize the elimination of occupancy limits, Section 25-2-511 ,and allow Austinites from all groups more flexibility, affordability, and community-minded housing options.
Planning Our Communities
Austin Justice Coalition
Austin Cooperative Business Association
Farm & City
AURA, an Austin for Everyone
Austin Housing Coalition