Austin, Texas, December 7th, 2023 — Today the Austin City Council passed significant housing reform measures to address the city’s housing emergency with the approval of the first phase of HOME, or Home Options for Middle-Income Empowerment.
This initiative passed with an impressive 9-2 vote, an acknowledgment by a supermajority of Council district leaders of the great challenges posed by Austin’s housing shortage and rising median home prices that are far beyond the means of average Austinites. The approval of HOME Phase 1 grants ordinary homeowners more options and promotes smaller, single-family homes for potential homebuyers.
Key Highlights of HOME Phase 1 Approval:
The City Council's resounding support for HOME Phase 1 underscores our shared commitment to addressing the housing crisis comprehensively and innovatively. This initiative reflects the city's dedication to creating opportunities for residents to live, thrive, and contribute to the vibrancy of our community.
Council Member Leslie Pool brought forward the resolution on July 20 with Council Member Chito Vela, Council Member Zo Qadri, Mayor Pro Tem Paige Ellis, and Mayor Kirk Watson. Three more Council Members joined as co-sponsors at that vote: Council Member Ryan Alter, Council Member José Velásquez, and Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison. This measure also passed with a 9-2 supermajority.
“The status quo of limited housing options is not sustainable in this current environment,” CM Pool said. “We can do so much better for teachers, first responders, small business employees, construction employees, government workers, and nurses – people who have good jobs but can’t afford to invest in our city.”
"Today, the worst thing we can do for Black and brown families in Austin is nothing,“ CM Vela stressed. “Displacement is happening because our existing code bans the types of housing that middle-income families can afford. When the price of land is high in a growing city, we have to allow people to build their homes on less land."
“I was proud to join as a co-sponsor of Council Member Pool’s resolution in July that initiated HOME, and I’m excited to see the first phase come to fruition today,” said CM Ryan Alter. This proven, commonsense reform will help address our desperate need for housing that is more affordable and more environmentally friendly in all areas of Austin. I want to thank CM Pool for her leadership and for working with my office to add additional protections for our tree canopy. This will ensure HOME is a win for both affordability and sustainability.”
“HOME will create a more walkable, bikeable city by giving people flexibility with the property they already own,” Mayor Pro Tem Ellis noted. “If we want to limit sprawl and congestion, we need our land use planning to allow complete communities where more families are able to build a life close to where they live, work, and play.”
CM Qadri said, “I was pleased to offer the preservation incentive amendments that were included in the final vote. The preservation and sustainability bonuses strengthen the HOME Initiative. Preserving existing structures furthers the City’s affordability, cultural preservation, and climate goals by diverting construction debris from the landfill.”
“It is important to understand the historical context of restrictive single-family zoning,” CM Harper-Madison observed. “Our land development code has been used to close doors and limit opportunities for our low- and middle-income communities and the current status quo will continue to negatively impact housing affordability. The HOME initiative will provide the power of choice to homeowners and buyers.”
“We’re committed to addressing Austin’s housing emergency after years of being mired in debate and litigation,” said Mayor Kirk Watson. “The ordinance we passed today reflects much of the extensive feedback we’ve received from our community and includes additional provisions to preserve existing homes and neighborhoods. These changes are essential to ensuring that Austin can move into the future as the open, vibrant, and inviting community we’ve all strived to create here.”
HOME is widely supported individually and collectively by a wide spectrum of community and professional organizations, from labor unions, advocates for older adults, transit and housing advocates, and small business groups. The initiative has garnered national notice, as well, reflecting broader, documented housing concerns well beyond Austin's city limits. The following is the list to date:
Next steps for the HOME Initiative include the Phase 2 consideration of smaller lot sizes to promote smaller, missing middle housing choices and starter homes within the city, and will be taken up in 2024.
At the Council’s December 14 meeting, members from the East Austin District Council Offices are bringing an initiative to explore more tools to ensure community members have access to the HOME program. Council Member Harper-Madison, Council Member Fuentes, Council Member Velasquez, and Council Member Vela are working to add to the benefits of HOME with down payment assistance options for low- and middle-income homeowners, an outreach campaign to neighborhoods on access to capital and resources, and an updated plan for infrastructure in areas potentially impacted by increased housing.
To provide more information about HOME, the Office of Council Member Leslie Pool launched the HOME Website with the latest news on the initiative.
On Thursday, December 7, the Austin City Council passed new code amendments for the first phase of the “Home Options for Middle-Income Empowerment” (HOME) Initiative, with a 9-2 supermajority. The approved code amendments are among a series of updates to the City’s Land Development Code (LDC), which governs land use regulations in Austin, intending to provide more housing types and increase housing supply within single-family zoned areas of Austin. These amendments also provide homeowners with additional flexibility and options for their properties by:
Allowing up to three units: Increasing the number of homes allowed on single-family lots to three units, giving homeowners the ability to provide on-site housing options to family members, a caregiver, or earn additional income.
Including Tiny Homes: Making it easier to install a tiny home, an accessible and affordable way to add a small house to a property.
Creating Preservation and Sustainability Bonuses: Incentivize saving existing homes that conserve neighborhood character and help keep materials out of area landfills.
Encouraging the Creation of Smaller Homes: Regulates the size and scale of houses while promoting smaller “starter homes” for homebuyers.
The amendments apply to Austin properties zoned as Single-Family Residence Large Lot (SF-1), Single-Family Residence Standard Lot (SF-2), and Family Residence (SF-3). Homeowners can check the zoning of their property using this interactive Property Profile tool. In addition to zoning, other considerations such as site limitations, homeowners’ associations, deed restrictions, and tree regulations may impact a property’s ability to add housing units.
Homeowners are not required to do anything new to their property. They can continue using their property as a single-family home or choose new options and build up to three homes, including tiny homes.
These amendments also eliminated restrictions in the LDC regarding the number of unrelated adults that can live in one home, including single-family homes and apartments. Occupancy limits will continue to be regulated under the City’s Property Maintenance Code (Chapter 4, Section 404) which has enforceable occupancy limits based on square footage per person to ensure health and safety and prevent overcrowding.
The City of Austin Economic Development Department, in partnership with Catellus Development Corporation, is pleased to announce City Council’s approval of two key advancements for the development of the Colony Park Sustainable Community on November 30. The approved items encompass zoning updates and the terms for an agreement to develop the 208-acre property. These decisions support the development of the site as a master-planned community, including essential services, public amenities, and diverse housing options.
When complete, the Colony Park Sustainable Community is projected to deliver up to 3,000 residential units comprised of a mix of single-family homes and multi-family apartments; approximately 230,000 square feet of mixed-use office and institutional space; 130,000 square feet of mixed-use retail space; and 42 acres of parks, trails, and open space.
The Colony Park Sustainable Community Initiative was launched in 2012 through a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Over the past decade, the City engaged extensively with the community, holding numerous meetings, workshops, and family-focused events to shape the vision for the 208 acres of city-owned land in northeast Austin near Loyola and Decker Lane.
Since adopting the community vision in 2014, the City of Austin, in collaboration with the Colony Park neighborhood and other stakeholders, conducted a national search for a development partner from which Catellus Development Corporation was chosen in 2018. Collaboratively, the City, Catellus, and the Colony Park community have refined the 2014 land use plan, aligning it with current market demands and infrastructure needs while preserving the community’s vision.
“We are thrilled with City Council’s approval of the two key advancements, marking a significant stride in the realization of the Colony Park Sustainable Community,” mentions Sylnovia Holt-Rabb, Director of the Economic Development Department. “This underscores our collective vision, and we eagerly anticipate the positive impact on northeast Austin. These milestones reflect years of community engagement and planning, and we look forward to the transformative journey ahead.”
Barbara Scott, President of the Colony Park Neighborhood Association, expressed her enthusiasm, saying “It has taken us over 11 years to get here, but the action taken by City Council on November 30 has brought us one step closer to seeing the Colony Park Community's vision for this area of the eastern crescent fulfilled. We look forward to the signing of the development agreement and to the long-awaited transformation of this community.”
Sergio Negrete, Vice President of Development for Catellus, echoed the sentiment, stating “With unwavering commitment, our team (McCann Adams Studio, Civilitude, HDR, Horizon, McLean & Howard, and Smith Strategies) in partnership with the Economic Development Department and collaboration with every City of Austin review department navigated a complex rezoning effort, aligning seamlessly with the community’s vision. As we look ahead, we are thrilled to bring the community’s goals into reality, a testament to the collaborative efforts amongst community stakeholders and a shared commitment from the City of Austin."
The next steps in the process include returning to City Council early next year to finalize the financing package and related items. The development agreement with Catellus is estimated to be complete in early 2024. Street and public utility infrastructure construction is estimated to commence in late 2025, with residential and commercial building construction anticipated to begin in 2027.
For more information on the Colony Park Sustainable Community, visit www.austintexas.gov/content/
El concejo municipal aprueba medidas transformativas para Colony Park
About the City of Austin Economic Development Department
AUSTIN, TX – The City of Austin Housing Department announces that applications are open for 8 million dollars of rental assistance and eviction prevention support. Administered by El Buen Samaritano, the City’s new I Belong in Austin program will provide financial assistance with rent, moving, and storage/relocation costs for tenants at risk of eviction. Residents are encouraged to review eligibility and apply for rental assistance at www.AustinTexas.gov/rent.
“This work is a vital part of our displacement prevention strategy to help families stay in their homes,” explains Rosie Truelove, Director of the Housing Department. "Partnering with El Buen for I Belong in Austin will help us provide relief and housing assistance to vulnerable households throughout Austin.”
El Buen will work closely with the City, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA), and Volunteer Legal Services (VLS) to provide eviction prevention support, tenant relocation services, and emergency rental dollars to communities in their preferred language.
“IBIA is literally saving lives by ensuring safe spaces for children, elderly and adults. The dignity of being housed brings hope, health, and happiness to many that are experiencing unimaginable situations,” stated Dr. Rosamaria Murillo, Chief Executive Officer for El Buen Samaritano. “We are honored to be a path to peace, health, and wellbeing for thousands of individuals at such a critical moment in their lives when they are a step away from being rendered unhoused.”
The distribution of rental assistance funds by El Buen will be guided by the lessons learned from emergency rental assistance provided through the Relief of Emergency Needs for Tenants program during COVID-19. Improvements include increased program access by providing walk-in hours, a call center, and developing a user-friendly online application process. The Housing Department has worked with El Buen since the pandemic in building a rental assistance program.
“There were many lessons learned through the RENT program, where we distributed more than $77 million to over 18,000 households. Most importantly, we have learned that the needs still exist; emergency rent assistance and eviction prevention is a critical step to help keep families housed, preventing them from sliding into our homeless population,” stated Nefertitti Jackmon, the City’s Community Displacement Prevention Officer.
The ongoing collaboration with El Buen, TLRA, VLS, and other partners is another important key to the program's success. If you or anyone you know is struggling to pay rent or is at risk of eviction, apply for I Belong in Austin at www.austintexas.gov/rent.
AUSTIN, TX – The Economic Development Department Art in Public Places Program (AIPP) is seeking professional visual artists and artist-led teams interested in creating artwork for public places in Austin. Commission budgets for three distinct projects range from $70,000 to $400,000. Applications for the three public art opportunities close on December 19 at 5 p.m.
“Art has the power to shape the soul of a city, reflecting its essence and weaving together the diverse threads of its identity,” explains Sylnovia Holt-Rabb, Director of the Economic Development Department. “Through the Art in Public Places Program, we are not just working with artists to create installations, we provide opportunities that result in experiences that resonate with the heartbeat of Austin.”
Open Call for Austin-based Artists
Family Violence Shelter & Protection Center
Open Call for Texas-based Artists
Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center
Open Call for National Artists
Palmer Events Center
Austin’s creative economy is a growing ecosystem influencing various sectors. The Economic Development Department recognizes the city's growth and creative interests, creating a demand for artists experienced in diverse mediums. For details on AIPP, public art opportunities, and eligibility, visit www.austintexas.gov/aipp.
$660,000 en oportunidades de arte público
Las solicitudes para tres oportunidades de arte público se cierran el 19 de diciembre
"El arte tiene el poder de moldear el alma de una ciudad, reflejando su esencia y tejiendo los diversos hilos de su identidad", explica Sylnovia Holt-Rabb, Directora del Departamento de Desarrollo Económico. "A través del Programa de Arte en Lugares Públicos, no sólo colaboramos con artistas para crear instalaciones, sino que ofrecemos oportunidades que dan lugar a experiencias que resuenan con el pulso de Austin".
Convocatoria abierta para artistas de Austin
Convocatoria abierta para artistas de Texas
About the City of Austin Economic Development Department
Información sobre del Departamento de Desarrollo Económico de la Ciudad de Austin
City of Austin, including Council Member Alison Alter, joined Capital Delivery Services , Austin Transportation and Public Works in break...