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Committee to look at homestead preservation

Wednesday, April 29, 2015 by Jo Clifton

Lack of affordable housing is not a new problem for Austin. The city has tried various methods to increase housing stock for the less affluent for more than 30 years. The city started working to create Homestead Preservation Districts in 2005 and established the first such district in Central East Austin in 2007. State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) passed legislation during the last session that will aid the city if it decides to create more such districts. However, the city has not yet created the funding mechanism for building more affordable housing in those districts. City Council Member Pio Renteria, chair of the Council’s Housing and Community Development Committee, is hopeful that the city can move forward with that process now. His committee is meeting at 9:30 a.m. today and will talk about creation of tax increment reinvestment zones within the homestead districts in order to fund affordable housing. Renteria has prepared a draft resolution to move the process along and said Tuesday that once the ordinance is approved, the city will take a snapshot of the value of all the properties in the district. After that, officials will appoint a tax increment financing board to oversee affordable housing spending within the district. “If we ever get to that point where we establish a TIF board, they get 25 percent of the increased value due to gentrification, and they invest that in affordable housing,” Renteria said. In addition to the Central East Austin district, called District A by staff, there are four other possible Homestead Preservation Districts, although one near the University of Texas seems unlikely to pass muster. Its high percentage of students is in conflict with legislation approved in 2013, and city staff is not recommending its creation. Renteria’s resolution envisions holding public information meetings in each proposed district and presenting a draft ordinance to his committee by June 18.

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