Frustrations grow over lack of affordable housing

AUSTIN (KXAN) — If you’re looking to buy a home or even rent one in Austin, the cost to live in the city is high. Right now there are efforts to bring more affordable housing, but several groups are calling on city officials to make that happen faster.

A city group is working to rewrite the land development code. That means they are reworking the rules on what can be built on different types of land. The goal is to bring more dense development like apartments and duplexes.

Affordable housing auditThe process is called CodeNEXT;  it started three years ago and is currently a year and a half behind schedule. Frustrations are growing because they say there is a serious lack of affordable housing leading many to have to live outside the city with a longer commute to work.

Many young professionals like Beth Michel say they’ve taken to living in suburbs like Cedar Park.

“I’m having to commute every day and live in Cedar Park, so in the morning it takes me 45 minutes, but it’s actually only 17 miles. Forty-five minutes to go 17 miles!” Michel says.

That’s why groups like the Austin Chamber of Commerce, the Austin Board of Realtors and the Real Estate Council of Austin were at city hall Wednesday, calling on leaders to stick to their timeline and get the draft finished in January and the new code implemented by June of next year.

“This housing supply problem is why prices are so high. We say we need 15,000 units every year for the next 10 years to make a dent in the housing supply issue. If we get more supply, prices will be much more affordable for Austinites,” said Ward Tisdale, President of Real Estate Council of Austin.

“The price of houses in Austin has gone up $100,000 in the last five years, an average of 7.6 percent per year, so by 2020, the median the average price of a home will be $450,000 in Austin,” Paul Hilgers, CEO of the Austin Board of Realtors said.

The stakeholders want the code include the following:

  • Programs that incentivize the construction of below market housing
  • Options for more affordable housing options throughout the city to allow more high-density living like apartments, town-homes and duplexes
  • Impact of the proposed code must be analyzed to meet recommendations above before finalized

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