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Council seeks more affordable housing options

Friday, April 8, 2016 by Jo Clifton

With only City Council Member Don Zimmerman dissenting, Council approved a resolution Thursday directing the city manager “to explore the feasibility of increasing the use of bond funds for permanent affordable housing.” Council Member Delia Garza pointed out in her resolution that the city has not yet spent about $30 million of the $65 million approved by voters for affordable housing in the 2013 bond election. Surely, she thought, there should be a way to use that bond money to increase home ownership opportunities for middle-income families. The resolution notes that families who fall into a certain income bracket – 80 percent to 120 percent of median family income – do not qualify for any of the city’s housing programs. The resolution directs the city manager to convene a working group that includes people from the University of Texas Community and Regional Planning Department, the Austin Board of Realtors, local school districts and affordable housing advocates as well as people with expertise in real estate to try to come up with recommendations for homeownership options for those in the “missing middle.” The manager is directed to report back to Council no later than June 14 and present the final list of recommendations no later than Aug. 2. Zimmerman expressed his usual concern about subsidies. “We’re talking about institutionalizing permanent economic segregation,” he said. Mayor Steve Adler and Council Member Greg Casar both pushed back on that idea. Adler said, as he has in the past, that Austin can no longer claim to be the live music capital of the world if musicians can no longer afford to live here.

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