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How a new bill could help increase affordable housing in Austin

"Inclusionary zoning" is widely used in other states but not allowed in Texas.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin could join other cities in requiring developers to provide affordable housing in new developments, a practice known as “inclusionary zoning.”

Inclusionary zoning is widely used in other states but not allowed in Texas.

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State Rep. Gina Hinojosa and members of the Austin City Council filed a bill on Monday to allow Austin and other Texas cities to enforce the practice.

“Austin is growing, but that same growth is leaving many of our residents behind,” says Rep. Hinojosa. “I could see a lot of potential in working with our city partners to try to help deal with the affordability crisis here and in other Texas cities.”

Council members Leslie Pool, Alison Alter, Greg Casar, Ann Kitchen and Kathie Tovo will sponsor a city resolution in support.

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Texas currently bans cities from requiring developers to include affordable housing in new developments.

“Like most other booming cities, we are experiencing a housing crisis and we need better tools if we want to keep our city vibrant and diverse,” says Council Member Kitchen.

 Rep. Hinojosa says the measure will create thousands of affordable housing units over the next several decades.

But opponents say the policy could have the opposite effect, reducing affordable housing and accelerating gentrification, as well as discouraging developers from building in certain communities.

Council member Pool expects the bill to pass.

“The cities are becoming more Democratic and progressive and I think we have a great opportunity of getting this passed.”

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