Sustaining the Integrity of Austin Neighborhoods

Driving through the neighborhoods of Austin is always an interesting journey. Whether it’s the backyard chicken coops (that are encouraged and celebrated!), fluorescent bungalows, “beware of dog” signs, intricate cactus gardens, or the classic ‘77 Chevy truck with a shiny coat of fresh paint, there’s something to be said about exploring neighborhoods in the city. If anyone truly knows Austin residents and their homes it’s our Housing Department. Since 1977 our team supported by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development through the City of Austin’s Neighborhood Housing and Community Development funding provides emergency home repairs, working to maintain the integrity of Austin neighborhoods and preserve property values. Our Housing Department revitalizes Austin neighborhoods and helps keep people in their homes by ensuring low and middle-income Austin residents receive the emergency repairs needed to maintain a safe and healthy living environment. Because our Housing Department has worked with Austin residents for over 40 years it’s safe to say that they’re pros and know the city and it’s residents inside and out.

Today there is a constant buzz surrounding population growth, gentrification, new construction projects, and the dire need to preserve and maintain Austin history and culture. Even if you’re not an Austinite, you’ve most likely heard both sides of the story when it comes to the benefits and detriments of population growth. On one side there is the constant complaint about traffic, our AM and PM commutes seem to always be a drag regardless of the top quality public radio we get to enjoy. On the other hand, the economy is thriving, businesses and people are choosing Austin over other major cities, jobs are created every day, and as of February 2017, our unemployment rate is at a pleasant 3.4%, while 4.5% reflects the unemployment rate for the whole US as of March 2017. Austin is growing at a rapid rate and with this growth, we are seeing a change in the way low- and-middles income residents navigate the real estate market.

Gentrification is not a new concept but more than ever people are breaking down communication barriers and openly discussing the Austin landscape in regards to rising property value and taxes, new developments, and income disparities between residents. Neighborhoods that were once considered affordable are now highly valued pieces of property due to new surrounding developments which make certain areas appealing. This pressure stems from the large profit potential and increasing living expenses that have come with the growth of Austin’s tech industry.

The mission of the Austin Area Urban League is to provide tools to African Americans and under-served populations to build a foundation for social and economic equality. Collecting data and analyzing trends over time is a key component in understanding the economy and implementing strategies to improve the community. When a research team from the Urban Institute asked our organization to contribute to the “Austin and the State of Low- and Middle-Income Housing” research report we felt it was our responsibility to provide information in order to help advocate for affordable housing. Click the link below to read the full research report published October 10, 2017.

Read the Full Report