Voters to decide on $78 million bond issue for Austin's affordable housing


by JESSICA HOLLOWAY / KVUE News and photojournalist JOHN FISHER

Posted on October 16, 2012 at 6:14 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 22 at 12:08 AM

AUSTIN --  As the city continues to enjoy economic success, the effort also continues to help Austin's low-income families. Voters will decide in November whether to support a $78 million bond proposal that would pay for permanent supportive housing and also help low-income families get home repairs and improvements. 

You've probably seen the signs around town that say "Vote YES for HOMES." Have you made up your mind about voting? 

Ann Howard is the Executive Director of ECHO, Ending Community Homeless Coalition.

"We are out of money, and yet we have a growing demand by this community to offer more affordable housing," said Ann Howard.

"There's a huge gap in affordable housing across the board," says JoKathryn Quinn, the Executive Director of Caritas.

Not every homeless person wants a place to live.

"I want to get on the streets and do some busking," says Bob Couchenour. He moved to Austin from Indiana to make money performing on 6th Street. He hopes to be discovered for his musical talent.

Then there's 63-year-old Burnett Malone. He has arthritis in his spine. He uses government housing but still comes down to the ARCH (Austin Resource Center for the Homeless) during the day.

"I have an apartment. It costs about $600. I only get $700, so I don't make much," said Malone.

"You come down here to get free food. This is your social life. Everybody knows everybody. Also some people hussle stuff. They'll do drugs, cigarettes, whatever they can do to make a little money," said Ricardo Smith, a homeless man who's lived in Austin for 10 years.

Howard says Proposition 15 would help alleviate the already over-crowded shelters. KVUE asked her what would happen if it didn't pass.

"Developers who are ready to put affordable housing on the ground and non-profits who have clients ready for housing but nowhere to go," said Howard.

The election is Nov. 6. Early voting begins next week.

Will you vote for Prop 15? Join the conversation on Facebook on The KVUE Insider.