Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Austin Awards $20 Million in Community Contracts to Reduce Displacement Along Transit Corridors

The City of Austin’s Affordable Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) has awarded $20 million in Community Initiated Solutions funding to 14 area nonprofits to reduce residential displacement and create economic mobility opportunities for communities to be impacted by new rail and rapid bus routes along Project Connect transit corridors.  
“We look to these awards as effective investments to stabilize vulnerable residents,” said Nefertitti Jackmon, City of Austin Community Displacement Prevention Officer.
These funds are part of the voter-approved $300 million for transit-supportive anti-displacement housing strategies for Project Connect, a comprehensive transit plan including new rail service, new and expanded bus service with an anticipated all-electric bus fleet, new park and rides, and more. These funds support renter/tenant stabilization programs, expand and preserve homeownership opportunities, and undertake a variety of anti-displacement strategies.
All Project Connect anti-displacement funds will focus on preventing displacement in risk areas within one mile of transit lines.  Impacted communities will be able to access the funding and support announced today over the coming months. The City will share further information as it becomes available.

The awards were finalized during the AHFC meeting September 29. The recipients are: 
  • Goodwill Industries of Central Texas’ Connections to Work program ($2 million) will support economic mobility within impacted areas through workforce programs providing job training for living-wage positions; financial capability services; and direct rent/mortgage and utility relief for participants. 
  • Interfaith Action of Central Texas’ Financial Education & Literacy Program ($256,650) will provide financial education to vulnerable children, grades 6-12, and their families to help prepare them for a financially secure future. 
  • Meals on Wheels Central Texas’ Client Assistance Program ($900,000) will provide case management and financial assistance (including rent, utilities, mortgage, financial education, etc.) clients of Meals on Wheels Central Texas who are most at-risk of displacement. 
  • Austin Voices for Education and Youth’s North Austin/Rundberg Community Stabilization Project ($1,268,000) will use rent assistance for short-term stabilization, social work case-management, and workforce education, community building, advocacy and tenant rights education to increase long-term housing stability. 
  • Workers Defense Project’s Building and Strengthening Tenant Action Combatting Displacement Through Tenant and Worker Power ($2 million) will build tenant resiliency in Project Connect corridors by engaging renters in housing and economic justice organizing campaigns, leveraging Community Benefits Agreements to achieve tangible improvements, and building infrastructure to combat displacement. 
  • Catholic Charities of Central Texas’ Financial Stability Program ($1,924,000) will assist 150 households vulnerable to displacement through financial aid, long-term case management, financial literacy education, and wraparound services. 
  • Business & Community Lenders’ Austin CLT Accelerator ($2 million) will grow the capacity of nonprofits to increase community land trust availability and establish long-term affordable homeownership opportunities along Project Connect transit lines. 
  • El Buen Samaritano’s We Belong Here: Nuestros Hogares ($2 million) will assist tenants with rent and utilities, provide workforce and asset-building, implement cradle-career education, and strengthen cultural anchor capacity. 
  • Del Valle Community Coalition’s Homeowner Resilience Program ($1,100,000) will support Southeast Austin homeowners at risk of displacement by providing community investment and strategies to preserve and build wealth that are responsive to homeowner needs via counseling, advocacy capacity building, financial assistance, and educational homeowner resiliency events. 
  • Communities in School of Central Texas’ Student and Family Assistance: Relational, Timely Support to Prevent Housing Displacement ($1,500,000) will provide financial support to address housing insecurity, helping to stabilize students' home lives and preventing displacement of students to ultimately improve school performance, graduate, and achieve success in life.  
  • Austin Cooperative Business Foundation’s Asociaciónde Residentes’ Asociaciónde Residentes/North Lamar Anti-Displacement Improvements ($516,206) will fund health and safety improvements to the community and provide financial assistance to individual homeowners to address costly deferred home maintenance. 
  • The Life Anew Restorative Justice Incorporated's Anti-Displacement Property Ownership ($2 million) brings together a partnership of Life Anew Restorative Justice, The Langford Firm, and NeerGBuild and Design to educate homeowners on land ownership, estate planning, Zero Energy, financial literacy, and housing repairs. 
  • Austin Tenants Council’s Preserving, Asserting & Growing the Rights of Austin Tenants ($997,310) will help ensure housing stability by correcting Fair Housing Act violations and empowering tenants to exercise their rights through mediation, advocacy, and education. 
  • Mama Sana Vibrant Woman’s (MSVW) Rental Assistance for Families of Color in Austin's Eastern Crescent ($1,537,834) will support emergency rental assistance/eviction prevention grants to individuals who receive pregnancy, birthing, and/or postpartum services from MSVW or Austin's Maternal Health Equity Collaborative (MHEC). 
The Community Initiated Solutions was a funding process developed to center equity and expand opportunities so that people closest to the challenges can devise solutions to address community priorities.
“We’re excited that the community has responded with thoughtfully designed proposals that center community residents and address a myriad of displacement prevention tools to improve household stability and affordability,” said Nefertitti Jackmon, City of Austin Community Displacement Prevention Officer.  
"This is a historic initiative for our city, to leverage anti-displacement dollars over the next three years, with 14 organizations, addressing the needs of households with children living in poverty, financial literacy programs, expansion of community land trusts, estate planning programs, support for the expansion of home ownership opportunities, and more. Our department would not have been able to release such a robust array of programs all at once and have the same reach and impact as these organizations will have. This is what we can achieve, as a city, when we co-create with community,” Jackmon said. 
The review process consisted of three steps: First, an initial review to ensure the applications met the minimum requirements. Second, a community evaluation panel composed of practitioners, academics, and stakeholders from communities most impacted by displacement then reviewed, scored, and ranked the proposals using evaluation criteria informed by the Nothing About Us Without Us report and submitted their findings to the City’s Community Advisory Committee (CAC).​ Last, a working group of the CAC considered the balances between funding categories and recommended proposals for funding to the AHFC Board for final approval. 
A more detailed description of the proposal review as well as the extensive public outreach and engagement activities is available on the Community Initiated Solutions website, Community Initiated Solutions Funding | AustinTexas.gov
About the Austin Housing Finance Corporation 
The Austin Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) was created in 1979 as a public, nonprofit corporation and instrumentality of the City of Austin under the provisions of the Texas Housing Finance Corporation Act, Chapter 394, and Local Government Code. The Austin City Council serves as the AHFC’s Board of Directors, with the mission to generate and implement strategic housing solutions for the benefit of low- and moderate- income residents of the City of Austin. 
About Housing and Planning Department
The Housing and Planning Department provides resources related to planning, zoning, housing, and community development to enhance the quality of life of all Austinites. Equitable, efficient, and comprehensive planning with displacement prevention as a prioritized focus is the Department’s core charge in delivering housing services to the community.