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Affordable Housing Map

What Is Affordable Housing?

Affordable Housing is a program regulated by the City to Austin with the purpose of providing quality housing for all Austin residents. The program was initiated to help combat the rising home prices that have made affordable accommodations difficult to find for some residents. The City of Austin and its residents understand the importance of providing everyone with quality of life so that this city can continue to thrive. Our voters have spoken and agree that every child, regardless of upbringing, should have the opportunity to succeed and that begins with quality housing and access to food, education and healthcare. This program makes me proud to call this city home.

Essentially, the City of Austin has allocated a portion of tax dollars to go towards affordable housing. Recently in the 2018 mid-terms a $250M bond was approved for this purpose. Developers and property owners now have the option to provide lower income housing below market rate and receive a tax subsidy to recoup the difference between the affordable and market rate.


How Affordable Housing Is Different

Contrary to what some think, affordable housing is the same as housing at market price. In fact, newly constructed apartments and condominiums are now required to provide a certain number of designated affordable units. The developer has the option to opt out or instead pay the City of Austin a fee that goes towards the affordable housing fund, but many do not exercise this option. Consequently many apartment buildings have affordable units that are identical to the market priced units!

When it comes to buying a property through affordable housing, however, there are some differences in the benefits of affordable homeownership and conventional homeownership. Here are a few:

  • Affordable properties are capped at 2% nominal appreciation, so the value of your home likely won't grow as quickly. This is in place so that the housing remains affordable for years to come, which brings up the point that once an affordable housing property is designated it will always remain that way as long as the current laws remain. One benefit of the capped appreciation is that your property taxes also can't increase more than 2% per year.
  • The property has to serve as your primary residence. If you have to move then you cannot rent out the property, although you can rent out individual rooms to roommates if you live there as well.
  • If you buy an affordable property and your income then increases beyond the threshold, you can still remain in the property for as long as you like. However, you can only stay there if the property continues to serve as your primary residence and once you sell the property you will no longer qualify for the program unless your income decreases to below the 80% MFI threshold

In conclusion, there are some contingencies but the housing itself is no different than conventional housing and is an excellent option if you qualify for it. It's all about integration, bringing the community together, and making sure that every child in Austin has the opportunity to succeed.

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