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Peoples Plan Rally

City outlines displacement mitigation strategy based on People’s Plan

Monday, August 12, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Following a Council directive last year to analyze the recommendations put forth in the People’s Plan, city staffers from a variety of departments have released a Displacement Mitigation Strategy report detailing an approach to contend with gentrification and displacement in the city of Austin.

The 16-page People’s Plan, which was unveiled by Fred McGhee, Jane Rivera and Susana Almanza on Martin Luther King Day 2018, is composed of six resolutions/draft ordinances that are aimed at creating solutions for displacement and gentrification and more than a dozen action steps for Council and city staff to enact.

The city’s report includes 15 actions to combat displacement in the near term, including seven items that were explicitly mentioned in the People’s Plan.

However, the authors of the People’s Plan say the city’s plan doesn’t go far enough.

“You can’t cut and paste the People’s Plan,” McGhee told the Austin Monitor. He explained that the plan was intended to be implemented holistically.

In the city’s plan, staff took into account over 300 strategies from a variety of sources, including the Anti-Displacement Task Force, the Uprooted report, the Mayor’s Task Force on Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequities, and the city’s Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice report.

Although different aspects of the city’s recommendations borrow from strategies presented in the People’s Plan, none of the People’s Plan’s original six strategies are wholly incorporated into the department’s short-term displacement mitigation strategies. Those recommendations are intended to “support the overall goal of the People’s Plan,” according to a memo from the Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department.

According to the memo, “NHCD plans to swiftly move forward with implementing as many of these as possible based on staff capacity.” The department is working with the city’s Innovation Office to develop a one- to two-year displacement mitigation plan.

Displacement is defined in three ways in this report: direct, indirect and cultural. These definitions were the lens through which city staff analyzed all the proposed mitigation strategies. In conjunction with the Uprooted study, staff identified the 48 neighborhoods most susceptible to gentrification where “communities of color are disproportionately represented.”

The memo set forth several recommendations City Council could take action on to address gentrification in the long term. Derived from the collaborative efforts between stakeholders, these include allocating $16 million annually to the Housing Trust Fund; assigning additional staff to work with community members on historic district and landmark designation; and working to integrate flood mitigation strategies into the new Land Development Code.

Still, the city’s new Displacement Mitigation Strategy is the sum of many parts from many community members and stakeholders. The result, McGhee told the Monitor, is a watered-down version of what the People’s Plan originally presented. “They can say they looked at the People’s Plan, but I don’t see it reflected here,” said McGhee. “They’re not willing to do what needs to be done.”

Photo by Rene Renteria.

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