It’s no secret that housing is and has been a hot topic in the Austin area for many years. Prices continue to climb, the population continues to grow, and our infrastructure continues to struggle to keep up. At the same rate that Austin grows and changes, so do our policies around housing and transportation need to change, or we will find ourselves in a housing crisis greater than we are facing today.
With California-based companies like Oracle and Tesla packing their bags and moving their headquarters to Austin, the real estate market is showing no signs of slowing down. And a rapidly growing housing market can be a double-edged sword. Our local economy might thrive and expand due to the influx of people, but long-time residents of Austin are continuously being pushed out of their lifelong neighborhoods. Housing prices in the Austin area climbed 10.1% last year, and with that residential sales increased 28.2% (CultureMap). “With a steady influx of job creation in the pipeline, the housing market will continue to post strong numbers well into 2021,” said Mark Sprague of Independence Title. “But, because Austin’s housing market is not slowing down, we will continue to see demand outpace the inventory available. This growth is not sustainable. The one variable that will hold the market back is the lack of inventory.”
Civilitude’s Director of Public Policy Conor Kenny has a few words on this: “Our housing supply crisis has been hitting lower-income families hard for a while now, which is why the voters’ approval of the 2018 affordable housing bond and the anti-displacement funding in Project Connect was so critical – affordable housing for those families just can’t get built without subsidies anymore in Austin’s core. But we are now also seeing Austin’s Land Development Code, which limits “missing middle” housing like rowhouses, fourplexes, and small apartments to a small portion of town, impact middle-class housing in a big way. If we don’t make changes fast, we’ll have permanently shut the middle class out of Austin by a generation of building McMansions. Once a cute little bungalow turns into a McMansion instead of a fourplex or set of rowhouses, there’s no going back.”
While this is our current reality, we aren’t going to end this in such a sad tone. We are still hopeful that in a community like Austin, there are enough people working to change the tide for the better. If you want more information on what we do in relation to affordable housing, email us at [email protected].