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City of Austin launching pilot program aimed at helping residents at risk of displacement

The Displacement Prevention Navigator Pilot Program will bring in "navigators," who will go door-to-door to help residents access housing resources.

AUSTIN, Texas — Some neighborhoods in Austin are facing a displacement crisis. Now City leaders have put a plan in motion that could help people from being priced out of their homes.

City Councilmember Vanessa Fuentes (District 2) is launching the Displacement Prevention Navigator Pilot Program on Thursday. It will focus on two neighborhoods that are at most risk for displacement. 

"We have to do more, and keeping Austinites in their homes, and do it in a way that is relevant and culturally competent to our community," Fuentes said. "We're already seeing displacement set in."

According to the City, between 2021 and 2022, rent went up 35% and the average home price jumped to almost 22%.

Fuentes said the program will bring in 12 to 15 "navigators," who will go door-to-door in both neighborhoods and spend at least 15 hours a week with residents to explain all of the resources available to them.

"These are individuals who are going to be from Dove Springs and Colony Park or have close ties to these neighborhoods who are trained up, who are going to be able to go door-to-door, have those conversations in a way that is inclusive and language access is a key part of that as well," Fuentes said.

"The conversations I've been having with residents at Dove Springs is just wanting more information, wanting access to resources," Fuentes added. "The City of Austin does have many programs available to help our most vulnerable, but a lot of people don't know about it."

Training for Navigators will start in June, with the pilot program expected to be officially running in September, according to Fuentes.

The program is set to last for one year, but Fuentes hopes if it is successful, it can expand and help Austinites become more aware of all of the options at their disposal. 

"For folks who are wanting to figure out, you know, 'How can I alleviate some of the burdens and hardships that one faces in living and in a city like Austin?,' please seek us out. Certainly, [you] can contact my office or you can contact the City to learn more," Fuentes said.

The City is recruiting community members to serve as Navigators. Navigators will be paid $25 per hour for the year-long program. Training will take approximately six hours per week this summer, and outreach and assistance will take 10 to 15 hours per week from this fall through next May. Apply here.

Boomtown is KVUE's series covering the explosive growth in Central Texas. For more Boomtown stories, head to KVUE.com/Boomtown.

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