Rising home prices, taxes pushing longtime residents out of East Austin

Across Austin -- it's no surprise that real estate prices are going up... and people are being pushed out because of it.

AUSTIN - For almost twenty years Bobby Mitchell has been doing business in East Austin. Monday through Saturdays he's been busy running Swamp Daddy's off Rosewood Avenue.

"We do Cajun food like red beans and rice," Mitchell said. "Gumbo."

Originally his food truck was just an extension of his food mart, but several years ago he saw a decline of business at the store because the regulars weren't around anymore.

"My store couldn't keep up, so I just changed it around and catered to my food trailer," Mitchell said. "People can come in sit down, eat if they want to."

In the last 17 years, the neighborhood demographic in Swamp Daddy's 78702 zip code has seen a major shift.

According to American Community Survey Demographic and Housing Estimates, there are four times as many white people living in the area now than in 2000.

Meanwhile, the number of black and Hispanic residents is rapidly declining. Mitchell has seen it firsthand and no longer lives in East Austin.

"I live in Killeen," he said.  "It's more feasible for me to pay cheaper rent to where I can survive."

The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M reports East Austin has turned into one of the hottest areas to live in Central Texas, driving lower income families out. It states that from 2000 to 2015 growth rates of home sales prices in East Austin were two to four times that of Travis County and the Austin-Round Rock metro.

The median household income has also grown from $23,000 to $41,000.

"I mean prices are going up so fast and people can't afford to stay where they are and they're getting displaced. And I think it's a valid thing to be upset about," said new East Austin resident Cora McKasty.

Gentrification is something many long time residents are against and it's shown through countless protests and graffiti walls.Instead of participating, community activist Olivia Olertof makes a point to eat at places like Swamp Daddy's.

"If 30 people went inside the businesses they want open and bought a meal once a month or once every two months or told their friends about it, that would definitely make an impact," Olertof said.

As developers show increasing interest in the property Swamp Daddy's sits on, it's something Mitchell would appreciate.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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