AUSTIN, Texas — On Tuesday morning, the Austin City Council met for a special-called meeting to discuss topics related to housing affordability and supply. Mayor Steve Adler, in partnership with an affordable housing advocacy organization, Housing Works, has declared this week as "Housing Affordability and Housing Supply Week" in the city.
"This is an emergency situation we're in right now. It's an existential challenge," said Adler. "I wish there were things we could be doing overnight. But even the things that can't be done overnight have to be initiated now. We just can't wait. And we'll do everything that we can do."
Adler, HousingWorks Austin and other community partners held a press conference to discuss some of the items addressed during the meeting. Watch below:
Adler's proclamation of "Housing Affordability and Housing Supply Week" reads:
"Be it known that whereas Austin is facing an acute and growing housing affordability and housing supply crisis, at a time when cities across our region and country are struggling with raised prices for real estate assets and construction costs, compounded by supply chain and labor shortages. And whereas Austin's quality of life has attracted some of the largest migration of any city in the country. Whereas the City Council and our community have taken many steps to combat this challenge pass the Austin Strategic Housing Blueprint, a historic $250 million affordable housing bond, over $8 billion in transformational mobility measures, $300 million anti-displacement levy, 20% homestead exemption created the Regional Workforce Master Plan, giving more than $40 million dollars in rental assistance to tenants and landlords during the pandemic, passing an eviction moratorium, keeping 34,000 Austinites safely housed during the pandemic and much more. But yet the need for affordable housing supply is greater than ever, as we have seen in this spike over the last 12 months. And whereas our community has reached a tipping point, a renewed sense of urgency to tackle the issue of housing affordability and housing supply as one of their greatest challenges. And whereas Austinites, including the community organizations present here today, possess the creativity, progressive values, innovative mindset and the community will to make meaningful change that preserves who we are by preserving those who live here. And whereas Austin is a national leader on so many progressive issues because we rise to meet our greatest challenges. Now, therefore, I, Steve Adler, bear the city of Austin, Texas, on behalf of the Austin City Council, do hereby claim the week of November 29th as Austin Housing Affordability and Housing Supply Week."
Affordability and available housing supply have become major issues in Austin as the city continues to see booming growth. A recent report showed that Austin's rent is the highest out of all the major cities in Texas, and though the Austin-area housing market has recently seen a "calming trend," home prices remain high and inventory remains low.
“We have an urgent need to deliver immediate change for working families. The spike in housing prices is unacceptable, especially if we want to keep families in Austin,” said Austin City Councilmember Greg Casar. “There is broad consensus that our current building rules are pushing families out of the city by promoting McMansions over housing for working families. As a council, we must take action so that no matter someone’s income, there is a home they can afford. I look forward to voting on many of the affordable housing proposals at our Dec. 9 meeting, because working families need relief.”
Last week, KVUE spoke to City Manager Spencer Cronk about several hot-button issues affecting Austin, including affordability and homelessness. You can see part of that interview below and the full interview here.
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