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Tovo addresses affordability

Friday, January 15, 2016 by Jo Clifton

Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo took a few minutes to talk to the Capital Area Democratic Women on Thursday about a word that seems to be on the lips of every politician and activist in Austin: affordability. Tovo pointed out that one in five people in the Austin area is “food insecure” and that more than 2,000 Austin Independent School District students are homeless. These are important challenges facing the city, she noted. But as to the term “affordability,” she said, “We really need to look more carefully at how we’re using that term. We are all concerned about the rising cost of housing.” However, just in the last week alone, Tovo said she had heard the word used during a discussion about spending money on health and human services as well as related to the city’s demand for increased parkland dedication from developers. Tovo said she does not subscribe to the idea that those things have a negative impact on affordability. She also mentioned the city’s decision to increase fees for developers to cover the actual cost of services. Those may be an issue in affordability, but Tovo said affordability should not be about asking renters to pay fees to help build someone else’s new house.

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