Advocates and Council members rally behind the Affordable Housing Bond
Friday, July 22, 2022 by Jonathan Lee
Support for a potential $300 million affordable housing bond is growing. On Thursday, housing advocates and politicians launched a campaign to support the bond, which they say is needed to address Austin’s housing crisis.
“If we want to protect what is special and magical about this city, we must protect and preserve the people who live here,” said Mayor Steve Adler. “The way we do that is to support housing in this community.”
The rally took place at the Jordan at Mueller, an affordable housing project built by Foundation Communities. In attendance were a host of affordable housing advocates and professionals, seven city council members, as well as local election candidates, including mayoral candidates Celia Israel and Kirk Watson.
“This is a broad coalition,” said João Paulo Connolly, organizing director of the Austin Justice Coalition. “We have 25 bands officially endorsing us and many, many more will be joining us in the coming week.”
The board will vote on July 28 whether to put the bond on the November ballot. A majority of the Council has already expressed its support for the obligation.
If passed by voters, the bond would be the city’s third major injection of affordable housing funding in six years. In 2018 voters approved a $250 million bond and in 2020 voters authorized $300 million to support displacement efforts under Project Connect.
“The 2018 Affordable Housing Bond has resulted in an almost four-fold increase in affordable housing, subsidized affordable housing, in this community,” Adler said. “And frankly, we have no more money. And this is definitely not the right time to stop. We have momentum. We have guidelines. And the need keeps growing.
Only one Council member, Mackenzie Kelly, has opposition reported at the link. “I’m concerned that the proposed affordable housing obligation will have a significant impact on ratepayers and ultimately make the city even less affordable,” Kelly said in A declaration.
According a note from July 21 from assistant chief financial officer Kimberly Olivares, the cost for a typical owner would be $40.14 per year. (In this case, the typical homeowner is one whose home is valued at $448,000, with a assessed value of $358,400.)
“And that’s just a few dollars a month to make sure the most vulnerable people in our community have affordable housing options,” said council member Ann Kitchen.
Given public concerns about rising housing costs, affordability has been The main problem of Austinites in the recent Notley/Monitor poll, the bond should find broad support. According to Connolly, 68% of respondents to an internal poll said they would support a “big affordable housing bond” in November.
Earlier this month, proponents of the obligation organized the Affordable Housing Bond PAC to raise funds for the campaign. Meanwhile, Save Austin Now — the PAC responsible for ballot measures to restore the ban on homeless camping and increase police funding — announced its opposition to the bail in a press release.
Another one obligation proposed by the Austin Independent School District could also address the cost of housing. The larger of the two bond options currently under consideration would allocate funds to build housing for teachers on land owned by the school district.
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