From Investors to Council, Efforts to Increase Affordable Housing

August 8, 2017 by Kate Harrington

Austin saw the start of several initiatives aimed at increasing affordable housing in Central Texas during the first week of August.

On Aug. 3 City Council passed a resolution that aims to spread affordable housing to wealthier parts of town. And a new private equity fund and funding pool could both help finance the construction of more homes for working families.

Council’s resolution could make it easier to bring affordable housing to moderate- and high-income parts of Austin. The City would be able to provide incentives to developers who build in more expensive areas.

“We have a long way to go in getting Austin off the list of most segregated cities in the country, but this item — along with our efforts in recent years creating the largest recurring city funding stream for affordable housing, pushing our fair housing goals, and strengthening tenants’ rights — will move us in the right direction,” said District 4 Councilmember Greg Casar, who authored the resolution.

Meanwhile, the investment firm PMB Capital Investments has created a funding pool that could offer up to $100 million in loans to single-family home developers in several Texas markets. That could incentivize the building of more affordable homes, rather than the luxury projects that have been cropping up in major Texas markets.

And David Steinwedell, the former executive director of the Urban Land Institute, has also announced an affordable housing initiative: a private equity fund with the goal of preserving affordable housing for moderate-income working families.

A number of factors have combined to make the affordable housing crunch in recent years: a shortage of housing units for the newcomers moving to Austin, not enough labor to build the homes affordably, and slow permitting processes.

Austin leaders have called for 60,000 affordable housing units to be built over the next decade, as part of the City’s Strategic Housing Blueprint.

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Written by Kate Harrington

Kate is a former reporter, most recently for the Austin Business Journal, where she covered real estate, economic development and transportation. Since 2010 she has been running Thumbtack Communications. Thumbtack provides writing, editing and marketing services. Before moving to Austin in 2002 Kate lived in her native New England, which she still visits often to escape the Texas heat.