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Building affordable housing in Austin one house at a time

Austin Habitat for Humanity has begun building a new set of homes in the Scenic Point neighborhood.

AUSTIN, Texas — Affordability is a huge problem throughout Central Texas, but one group is trying to solve that by bringing housing to the residents in Austin.

New data shows Austin has the fifth-highest rent in the entire country, which is an increase of almost 90% from a year ago. Austin Habitat for Humanity is trying to help make Austin affordable by building and repairing homes for those that are low-income or in need of a helping hand. 

Each week, members of the organization put on their hard hats and work to literally homes more affordable. 

"We are back at it again," says Rob Evans. "Season three, or house three at least, of the Habitat build here at Scenic Point.  We just wrapped up these houses and now it's time to start another one. So, we're going down here. As you can see, some of the walls are already up. So, they move real fast."

Projects like the one at Scenic Point are part of AHFH's homebuilding program. They are currently building what will be a 67-home neighborhood in the area of Scenic Point and a 23-home neighborhood in the area of Loyola Lane. Residents can apply to own one of the homes if they meet all the requirements of the project, which are:

  • Must be a U.S. citizen or have legal permanent resident status
  • Ability to pay a mortgage
  • Must commit 200 hours of "sweat equity" to help build homes
  • Have a credit score of 620 or higher
  • Must live and work in the service area for the past six months
  • Must be a first-time homebuyer

"On three! One, two, three," a photographer captures the before picture of this group of volunteers. 

"Is it square, sir?" Evans jokes with a volunteer, who's checking a measurement. 

"Almost there," the volunteer laughed.   

Another volunteer uses a framing gun to connect a beam that will become the back porch. 

"Wow," Evans said, "You're good! You've done this before?" 

"Yeah," she said with a smile. 

As the volunteers broke for lunch, we took a look at the progress. 

"We put this part of the back up," Evans explained. "Some temporary bracing, but beautiful views of downtown. Take a look at it. And now we're working on some top plates. And then on to the front porch, but time to get some electrolytes."

Austin Habitat for Humanity is always looking for volunteers, either groups or individuals. It's a great bonding experience for companies to come out and learn skills, learn to work together and give back to a family that will be forever changed. Here's a link if you're interested.


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