Wednesday, January 31, 2024

New Cap in Personal Net Worth for Austin’s Minority Procurement Program

The City of Austin’s Small and Minority Business Resources Department (SMBR) has increased its Personal Net Worth (PNW) requirement to $2.21 million, up from the former $1.82 million. This figure represents an increase of 21%. It is the second-highest increase to the city’s Minority-Owned and Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (MBE/WBE) Procurement Program since the requirement’s inception in 2008.

The increase, effective Jan. 1, 2024, is in response to the recommendations submitted to City Council by the Inclusive Procurement Working Group (IPWG). Convened by Council in 2020 (Resolution No. 20200326-053), the IPWG was tasked with assessing specific programmatic and administrative issues related to the MBE/WBE Procurement Program.

“As one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, our new PNW methodology keeps pace with rising costs in the greater Austin area — helping ensure the program remains attractive and viable for new and existing minority and woman-owned firms,” said Edward Camps, director of SMBR. “We are confident this change will make our program an even bigger success and continue to open doors of opportunity for the businesses who need it most.”

SMBR engaged local economist John Hockenyos, President of TXP, Inc. (TXP), to review SMBR’s PNW methodology, perform a review and assessment of the PNW process, and to update and refine the methodology used to calculate the personal wealth definition of economically disadvantaged.

Based on TXP’s findings, SMBR will reset the PNW threshold annually and publish the results in January of each calendar year beginning in 2024. For more information, please visit www.austintexas.gov/smbr.


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About Us

The Small and Minority Business Resources Department (SMBR) administers Minority-Owned, Women-Owned, and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Procurement Programs for the City of Austin. Our mission is to promote access and equity on City of Austin contracts, providing economic opportunity to small, minority-owned, women-owned, and disadvantaged businesses.

Charter Review Commission to hold public town hall February 8

 

The 2024 Charter Review Commission will hold its first town hall on February 8 to receive feedback on potential changes to the Austin City Charter. The meeting will be hybrid, with opportunities to give input in-person or virtually.
 
Charter Review Commission Town Hall
Date: February 8, 2024
Time: 7 PM
Locations: Online and in-Person at Austin City Hall (301 W 2nd St., Austin, TX 78701)
To register to participate virtually or to request interpretation services, visit:  Feb 8 2024 CRC Town Hall Registration *Please note, this registration will open on Monday, Feb 5 at 10AM
 
The Austin City Charter is a key document that explains how Austin is managed and governed. It essentially serves as a constitution for the city. The Austin City Council Resolution 20230309-025 established the 2024 Charter Review Commission to review and provide recommendations on the following aspects of the Austin City Charter:
 

  • Initiative, Referendum, Recall and Charter Amendment Petition Requirements
  • Election Timing for Initiative, Referendum, Recall and Charter Amendment elections
  • Petition Filing Process
  • Ethical Guidelines for Petition Circulators
  • Proposition Lettering System
  • How to handle Conflicting Ballot Measures
  • Other issues related to Transparency and Functionality of City Government

 
The Commission has been directed to conduct its work, with the aim of providing recommend amendments to Council by March 9, 2024, to ensure that proposed amendments can be placed on the November 2024 ballot in a timely manner. This process includes a public survey that concluded in mid-January, as well as public meetings to encourage and seek broad-based input from the community. The goal is to ensure that any proposed amendments reflect the community's needs and comply with legal requirements, ultimately enhancing the governance and democratic processes of Austin.
 
For more information on the Austin City Charter, the Charter Review Commission, and community feedback opportunities, please visit SpeakUpAustin.org/CharterReview.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Austin’s Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail Transformed

 

 TEMPO Project Announces Selected Artists

The Trail Conservancy, in collaboration with the City of Austin Economic Development Department’s Art in Public Places Program (AIPP), is pleased to announce the artists selected to participate in this year’s TEMPO on the Trail–a public art initiative that invites practicing visual artists and artist teams to create short-term or time-based artworks at various locations along the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail. TEMPO aims to cultivate curiosity, spark imagination, and encourage exploration of the vibrant city of Austin through temporary art installations.
 
"We are thrilled to partner with The Trail Conservancy on the TEMPO on the Trail project, as it aligns with our mission to enhance the cultural vitality of Austin," said Sylnovia Holt-Rabb, Director of the Economic Development Department. “We aim to support artists in bringing their creative visions to the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail, fostering a unique and engaging connection between art and the community”.
 
This temporary exhibition encourages artists to select locations that resonate with them and to design artworks that can be easily installed and uninstalled in those respective locations, allowing for dynamic and ever-changing outdoor art experiences. Each artist will receive $25,000 to design, fabricate, and install their temporary artwork. Installations will take place from March – June of 2024.
 
"We believe art has the power to connect people to their environment in meaningful ways," said Hanna Coffer, Interim CEO of The Trail Conservancy. "By inviting artists to create temporary installations along the trail, we hope to foster a deeper connection between our community and the natural world that surrounds us."
 
Selected Artists and Media

  • Adrian Landon Brooks – Drake Bridge Mural
  • Chroma Collective – IH-35 Under Bridge Mural
  • Raul Buitrago – Seaholm Amenities Pavilion Wheat Paper Mural
  • Diego Miro-Rivera – International Shores Sculpture
  • Johnny Walker – Auditorium Shores Sculpture
  • Juliet Whitsett – Holly Lakefront Trail Sculpture
  • Ani Bradberry – Seaholm Intake Interior Neon Art
  • Darcie Book – Lakeshore Park sculpture

 
TEMPO promises to transform Austin's outdoor spaces into a canvas of creativity. The Trail Conservancy and the Economic Development Department look forward to collaborating with talented artists to make this vision a reality.
 
To learn more about the Economic Development Department’s Art in Public Places Program, visit austintexas.gov/aipp.
 

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About the City of Austin Economic Development Department   
The City of Austin Economic Development Department supports business growth, creative industries, and local communities. These programs build an equitable, sustainable economy to improve the lives of all Austin residents. To learn more about helpful resources, visit www.austintexas.gov/edd and subscribe to our newsletter. Connect with us @AustinEconDev on Facebook@AustinEconDev on X, and @AustinEconDev on YouTube.  

 
The Trail Conservancy
The Trail Conservancy’s mission is to protect, enhance, and connect the Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake for the benefit of all. The Butler Trail is the 10-mile lush, urban path in the heart of Austin that gets more than 4.9 million visits every year. Since its founding in 2003, The Trail Conservancy has achieved restoration and beautification projects to the Trail’s infrastructure and environment while honoring the original vision of the Trail’s founders and ensuring its vibrancy for generations to come.

Sanitary Sewer Overflow: Vicinity 320 Heartwood Dr.

 

AUSTIN – On Wednesday, Jan. 24, at 9:30 a.m., Austin Water crews responded to a complaint submitted to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) that a possible Sanitary Sewer Overflow occurred near 320 Heartwood Dr. Preliminary findings indicated that over 100 gallons were spilled in the vicinity of the site reported to Austin Water.
 
Further investigation was conducted from Jan. 24 to Jan. 29, which determined that the sanitary sewer overflow resulted from infiltration and inflow caused by damage to an upstream manhole likely caused by heavy rains and storms the Austin area recently experienced. On Jan. 29, flow meters in the area were used to estimate the approximate volume of the inflow and infiltration. It was determined that over 800,900 gallons of rainwater from Williamson Creek entered Austin Water’s sanitary sewer system and mixed with the wastewater, triggering this public notification for the sanitary sewer overflow. The rainwater was captured in Austin Water’s sanitary sewer system and eventually flowed into the South Austin Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant.

This leak has not affected Austin’s drinking water supply. Officials with the TCEQ were notified of the situation on Jan. 25.

Austin Water officials urge:

  • Persons using private drinking water supply wells located within 1/2-mile of the overflow site or within the potentially affected area should use only water that has been distilled or boiled at a rolling boil for at least one minute for all personal uses including drinking, cooking, bathing, and tooth brushing. Individuals with private water wells should have their well water tested and disinfected, if necessary, prior to discontinuing distillation or boiling.
  • Persons who purchase water from another public water supply may contact their water supply distributor to determine if the water is safe for personal use.
  • The public should avoid contact with waste material, soil, or water in the area potentially affected by the overflow.
  •  If the public comes into contact with waste material, soil, or water potentially affected by the spill, they should bathe and wash clothes thoroughly as soon as possible‎. 
     

If you have any questions, please contact
Austin Water Public Information Office at AWPublicInformation@austintexas.gov


Contact: Austin Water Public Information Office, awpublicinformation@austintexas.gov 

Notice of Hearing: Updates to Austin Strategic Mobility Plan, City Hall on Feb. 15, 2024

The  Austin Strategic Mobility Plan (ASMP) is Austin’s comprehensive, multimodal transportation plan. It was first adopted in 2019 as the transportation element of Imagine Austin, our city's comprehensive plan. Per direction from City Council, the ASMP is going through an amendment process to consider recommendations from Planning Commission. The amendment process is now reaching the final stage.


The proposed amendments reflect the recommendations provided by Planning Commission in a memo from October 2023. City Council approved resolution initiating this amendment process with direction to return to Council for amendment consideration by February 15, 2024. Now, the final round of engagement will be through the City Council Public Hearing process.

The City Council will consider these amendments on February 15, 2024 at City Hall Council Chambers, 301 West Second Street, and viewable through the ATXN website beginning at 10 a.m. Comments on the proposed amendment(s) from any member of the public will be heard during the Public Hearing. 

To participate in this Public Hearing, you may either attend virtually by viewing the meeting online and registering to speak in advance, or by going to City Hall at 301 West Second Street and attending in-person. For additional information on how to participate in the meeting, visit the City Clerk’s Public Participation webpage.


The proposed amendments can be viewed using the materials available on the ASMP’s amendment webpage. Specifically, the ASMP Redline document shows how the two amendments would be incorporated into the ASMP.

If you are experiencing technical difficulties accessing these materials or have questions, please email ASMP@AustinTexas.gov. If you would like to comment on the final draft proposals, please consider participating in City Council’s process via the City Clerk webpage linked above. 

City of Austin Breaks Ground on Canyon Creek Fire/EMS Station #54

 


Rendering of Canyon Creek Fire/EMS Station
Rendering of Canyon Creek Fire/EMS Station

The City of Austin's Capital Delivery Services Department, the Austin Fire Department (AFD), and Austin-Travis County EMS (ATCEMS) broke ground today on the Canyon Creek Fire/EMS station AFD #54/EMS #43, the last of five high-priority stations being built to keep up with the city’s population growth.  

The project, initiated following a Council Resolution in May 2018, aimed to address the need for enhanced emergency response capabilities in areas with low response times and high population growth. Capital Delivery Services, under the leadership of Director James Snow, spearheaded the project, reflecting the commitment to delivering critical public service facilities to meet the growing needs of the community.  

District 10 Council Member Alison Alter expressed her gratitude for the collaborative effort, stating, "In 2018, I set an ambitious goal to build and renovate five new Fire/EMS stations. Today I am proud to advance our work to improve emergency response times and wildfire preparedness in my district and across the City. I am grateful to my colleagues and to City staff for supporting this important public safety infrastructure." 

Chief Robert Luckritz of Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services expressed enthusiasm for the project, stating, "We are excited to break ground on the last of 5 new stations in six years. Working to meet the goal of constructing and opening multiple new EMS and fire stations while renovating some of our current facilities has been interesting." 

Austin Fire Department Chief Baker weighed in as well, " Once complete, this station is going to be amazing! It will be more than 13,000 square feet, with four back-in apparatus bays, 11 fire dorms, four EMS dorms, a day room, kitchen, gym, plenty of parking for station personnel, and outdoor space and a beautiful walking trail for everyone to enjoy.” He continued, “We’re looking forward to adding this awesome, new facility to our resources and to serving the community members of Canyon Creek and northwest Austin.”  

Capital Delivery Services Director James Snow emphasized the department's commitment to enhancing public safety and community well-being, stating, "With today’s groundbreaking, Capital Delivery Services currently has 11 stations under construction. The communities’ investment in our city allows us to undertake projects like this, ensuring we are prepared for emergencies and able to deliver the highest level of care to those in need. The City of Austin looks forward to the completion of Canyon Creek Fire/EMS Station #54 and the positive impact it will have on public safety in the community." 

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About Austin Capital Delivery Services:

Capital Delivery Services (CDS) builds public projects to support the community. We have the right people with the right experience to plan, design, build, and inspect projects to deliver on-time and on-budget. 

The core of our staff includes engineers, architects and construction professionals with a wealth of experience managing small and large projects. We bring additional expertise to the table through the collaboration with our partners – whether community members, consultants, contracting teams, or other City departments. We are focused on one City, one team, one approach. 

 

For more information, visit www.austintexas.gov/department/capital-delivery-services

Monday, January 29, 2024

Austin Hosts Ready Together, a Community Preparedness Classroom Training

The City of Austin Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) is offering a community resource: Ready Together, a free classroom training on basic emergency preparedness. The course is developed in partnership with Austin Energy, Ascension Seton, Go Austin/Vamos Austin, and Austin Fire Department.

“We are happy to be able to bring our Ready Together class to the Central Texas community,” said Austin HSEM Director Ken Snipes. “We have seen the need for and interest in this kind of training. The best time to prepare for the next emergency is today. Austinites who take this course will be in a better position to help themselves, their family, and their community in a disaster.”

  • Event: Ready Together: Basic Emergency Preparedness for You, Your Family & Your Neighborhood (Classroom Training)
  • Time: Thursday, February 8, 2024, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Location: Southeast Branch Library, 5803 Nuckols Crossing Rd., Austin, TX 78744

Attendees must register for the class to attend. Click here to reserve a spot.

This free, 2-hour course is open to community members, regardless of preparedness knowledge. The course will provide an introduction from the experts on how to practice the four steps of emergency preparedness: making a plan, building a kit, knowing your neighbors, and staying informed. Attendees will gain practical knowledge on how to prepare their home, family, and community for a variety of hazards. This is the second time the class has been offered. This installment will focus on winter weather.

“As we watch extreme weather events increase around the globe and here at home, we know working together to prepare for the unexpected is essential,” said Austin Energy General Manager Bob Kahn. “This training will help our neighbors get ready and stay ready for the next emergency, improving resilience for their family and our community.” 

Participants who complete the course will receive a free emergency preparedness starter kit and NOAA weather radio. Interpreters will be available on-site in Spanish and American Sign Language. Other languages can be requested by contacting 3-1-1 at least five days before the event.

Austin HSEM has three additional Ready Together course dates scheduled quarterly throughout 2024. Future training dates and more information on how to prepare can be found at www.ReadyCentralTexas.org .


Austin Water saves $62M with financial transaction in 2024

 

Austin Water closed a financial transaction that will save the utility $62 million over the next three years. Known as debt defeasance, this strategy saves Austin Water and its customers money by reducing the amount paid towards debt service.

“Finding efficiencies and cost savings are critical components of Austin Water’s overall debt management strategy,” said Shay Ralls Roalson, Director of Austin Water. “Debt defeasance has been a tremendously successful strategy that has helped offset the cost of construction and upgrades to improve resilience across Austin’s water and wastewater infrastructure.”

Austin Water’s award-winning financial strategies successfully balance two essential priorities: responsibly managing debt and continuing to invest in critical infrastructure to provide water and wastewater service reliability and stability for the 10th largest city in the county. The utility has saved customers $556 million since 2016 through effective debt management while making great strides to renovate an aging water and wastewater system.

Austin Water uses Capital Recovery Fee dollars for annual debt defeasance transactions to reduce future debt service requirements. These defeasances have allowed Austin Water to manage debt costs and improve financial performance. Reducing debt service requirements has a multiplier effect on revenue requirements: every dollar of debt service savings reduces annual revenue requirements by $1.75. Debt defeasance transactions have resulted in:

  • One the of most robust Customer Assistance Programs for low-income customers in the country, including multiple significant rate reductions.
  • Creation of one of the first Multifamily Customer Assistance Programs in the nation.
  • Financing to support infrastructure expansions for one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.
  • Stable rates since 2018 and temporary rate reductions to aid customers during the pandemic and other emergency events.
For more information about Austin Water’s award winning debt management strategy visit www.austinwater.org.

About Austin Water

Austin Water provides safe, reliable, high quality, sustainable and affordable water services that have met the community’s needs for over 100 years. Austin Water services over 1 million people in the Austin metropolitan area across more than 548 square miles.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Groundbreaking for Seabrook Square Multi-Family Development in East Austin

The City of Austin Housing Department celebrates the groundbreaking of the Seabrook Square multi-family development in partnership with the NHP Foundation, Capital A Housing, and the Austin Housing Finance Corporation. Seabrook Square I will be 204 units located on approximately three acres at 3511 and 3515 Manor Road, now addressed as 2210 Pershing Drive. It will include a 5-story and a 4-story building that will offer a diversity of affordable housing options. All 204 units in the first phase will be affordable for households earning at or below 60% Median Family Income (MFI) and will include 10 "live-work-residence-studios" dedicated to East Austin artists.

“The Seabrook Square groundbreaking shows exciting progress in our collective efforts to bring more affordable housing options to Austinites,” explains Mandy DeMayo, Interim Deputy Director of the Housing Department. “All partners are working together to ensure an inclusive community that supports the health and well-being of the J.J. Seabrook neighbors.”

The development in the East MLK neighborhood aims to provide maximum affordability for residents and local businesses. The groundbreaking event featured remarks from development partners and community leaders. 

"Partnering with local organizations to complement strengths in the service of bringing much-needed affordable housing to Austin residents is a crucial step in the effort to fill the region’s housing needs," Robert Jefferson, Senior Development Director at NHPF, adding that Seabrook is an ideal example of what happens when local market expertise and affordable housing experience combine. 

 Rendering of Seabrook Square, multi-family development

On-site amenities comprise parking spaces, approximately 3,000 square feet of commercial space housing Raasin in the Sun (artist incubator) and Origin Studio House (a black-owned café), a large public plaza, live/work units, locally curated murals, passive/active recreation spaces, and a community center for residents.

”In a market like Austin where everyone is desperate for housing, it is relatively easy to just throw up a generic apartment building, call it Low Income Housing and you’ll be fine,” Conor Kenney, Principal, Capital A Housing, “Seabrook Square will be so much more - everything from the landscaping to the cafe to the live-work spaces are going to be a symbol of what everyone on this team is committed to doing for our community.”

In collaboration with AHFC and local developer Capital A Housing, the NHP Foundation closed on $74.5 million in construction financing for Seabrook Square in September 2023 – a milestone in the development process. This project signifies NHPF's inaugural venture into Austin, showcasing a commitment to partnering with local organizations to deliver much-needed affordable housing in District 1. The estimated move-in date for tenants is July 2025.

Seabrook Square Background 

Seabrook Square is in the J.J. Seabrook neighborhood and is named after Dr. John Jarvis Seabrook, a Black educator, pastor, and well-known community leader in Austin. Dr. Seabrook was the president of Huston-Tillotson College (now known as Huston-Tillotson University) from 1955 to 1965. The Seabrook community was envisioned to be inclusive and harmonize with the current resources and cultural history. 

As approved by the Austin Housing Finance Corporation board in July 2022, Seabrook Square I is financed by a $40M tax-exempt Bond issued by the City of Austin, $3.4M Citibank construction bridge debt, $32.3 million in 4% LIHTC Equity syndicated by Boston Financial, and $13.5M in Austin Housing Finance Corporation subordinate debt financing through Rental Housing Development Assistance (RHDA). 

Seabrook Square is broken into two phases of development, with the first phase, Seabrook Square I apartments, consisting of 204 affordable units, and the second phase, Seabrook Square II, consisting of 60 units of permanent supporting housing. Both phases of development have a long-term ground lease with AHFC, through which the land will continue to be publicly owned. The site will have ample common area spaces, including a private courtyard for the PSH development and a large public plaza available to all residents and the surrounding neighborhood. Trauma-informed design, durability, and long-term ownership are critical factors in the selection of materials and systems for the building, as well as key design features throughout the community.   

Rendering of Seabrook Square, multi-family development

Resources for affordable housing and displacement prevention are available online at www.austintexas.gov/housing.    

 

About the City of Austin Housing Department

The City of Austin Housing Department provides equitable and comprehensive housing, community development, and displacement prevention to enhance the quality of life of all Austinites. To access affordable housing and community resources, visit www.austintexas.gov/housing

About the Austin Housing Finance Corporation

The Austin Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) was created as a public, non-profit corporation and instrumentality of the City of Austin. The mission of the AHFC is to generate and implement strategic housing solutions for the benefit of low- and moderate-income residents of the City of Austin. 

About The NHP Foundation

Headquartered in New York City with offices in Washington, DC, and Chicago, IL, The NHP Foundation (NHPF) was launched on January 30, 1989, as a publicly supported 501(c)(3) not-for-profit real estate corporation. NHPF is dedicated to preserving and creating sustainable, service-enriched multifamily housing, and single-family homes that are both affordable to low and moderate income families and seniors, and beneficial to their communities. NHPF’s Construction Management Group provides in-house resources dedicated to infrastructure review, infrastructure development and cost management. Through Family-Centered Coaching, NHPF’s subsidiary Operation Pathways engages with, and assists, families experiencing poverty and other hardship, to problem-solve together. Through partnerships with major financial institutions, the public sector, faith-based initiatives, and other not-for-profit organizations, NHPF has 61 properties, including over 10,000 units, in 16 states and the District of Columbia. For more information, please visit www.nhpfoundation.org.  

About Capital A Housing

Capital A Housing is an Austin-based and focused development company of affordable and mixed-income projects. It specializes in projects that range from a quarter acre to 50 acres and are responsive to neighborhood, city and elected official concerns, delivering outstanding amenities, affordability and services. Through its methodology, Capital A Housing accomplishes rezonings or other permissions that would typically be infeasible for more standard developments. For more information, please visit capitalahousing.com

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Boat Ramps at Lake Walter E. Long Reopen January 25

 




Public access to the boat ramps at Lake Walter E. Long will reopen at noon on Thursday, January 25 as the lake level is now high enough to safely allow boat launching. Operational decisions about lake access are made in collaboration with Austin Energy, Austin Water and the Lower Colorado River Authority. Austin Energy, Austin Water and Austin Parks and Recreation will continue to monitor available water elevation levels. Updates will be posted to the Lake Walter E. Long Boat Ramp webpage.

156 Affordable Units Now Underway with Norman Commons Development

 

AHFC’s First Partnership with Foundation Communities Breaks Ground in East Austin 



AUSTIN, TX – The City of Austin Housing Department celebrates the closing of $58 million in construction financing in District 1 for the development of land owned by the Austin Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC). AHFC’s first partnership with Foundation Communities, Norman Commons is a 156-unit multifamily development located at 3811 Tannehill Lane (currently addressed as 5712 Jackie Robinson Street). The family-friendly community features 156 rental units and 32 for-sale units to be built by Guadalupe Neighborhood Development Corporation through its community land trust program (some of which are shown on the right of the site rendering).  

“We are thrilled to help build an amenity- and services-rich, family-friendly community adjacent to Norman Sims Elementary to continue our goal of affordable housing in Austin,” said Mandy DeMayo, Interim Director for the City of Austin’s Housing Department. “These investments ensure affordable units in areas vulnerable to displacement. Located within one mile of Project Connect corridors, Norman Commons is near the route of the future Green Line rail service that will serve neighbors in the area.” 

In total, 75% of the units at Norman Commons are multi-bedroom – including Foundation Communities’ first property with four-bedroom units. All units will serve families at or below 60% of the median family income (MFI). Norman Commons will also work to serve our unhoused neighbors, with sixteen units having a preference for families at risk of homelessness via Foundation Communities’ Children’s HOME Initiative (CHI) Program, which has been serving homeless families across Austin since 2003. These households will have access to a full‐time, on‐site case manager, and a wide range of additional support services. 

“We are excited about having this opportunity to help more lower-income families in Austin find stability and success through affordable housing and support services,” said Foundation Communities Executive Director Walter Moreau. “Thank you, AHFC for your financial support for Norman Commons.” 

Additionally, the community will feature an on-site Learning Center with a multitude of free services for both residents and neighbors alike, including free youth afterschool and summer programs to complement existing programs at Norman-Sims Elementary, a healthy food pantry, plus educational, financial, and health‐oriented classes for adults. 


Norman Commons offers residents and neighbors access to a state‐of‐the‐art Learning Center, which will include several classrooms, a community kitchen, staff offices, and a large gathering space. (Spring Architects)  

Norman Commons Background 

AHFC acquired the almost 8-acre property from the Austin Independent School District (AISD) in 2018. Following community engagement and a competitive request for proposals, AHFC awarded the development opportunity to Foundation Communities and Guadalupe Neighborhood Development Corporation (GNDC) in November 2021.  

“GNDC is delighted to be able to provide 32 more homeownership opportunities to families with generational ties to East Austin thanks to this partnership with Foundation Communities and AHFC. Every day we see the positive impact our affordable homeownership program has on people's lives, especially assisting East Austinites become homeowners in their own neighborhood. We're looking forward to building the townhomes at Ada Anderson Place on Tannehill Lane for the next wave of homeowners,” said Mark Rogers, GNDC’s Executive Director. 

The site will include two phases of development with the first phase, Norman Commons Apartments, consisting of 156 affordable rental units and the second phase, Ada Anderson Place, consisting of 32 units of affordable ownership housing through the GNDC’s community land trust. Norman Commons has a long-term ground lease with AHFC through which the land will continue to be publicly owned. Norman Commons is anticipated to be completed in late 2025 and Ada Anderson Place in late 2026/2027. 

Norman Commons involved a complex financing strategy with many funding sources. It is primarily financed by a $31.5M tax-exempt bond issued by the Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation (TSAHC); a $4.4M construction loan and $14.8M permanent loan through Wells Fargo; $25.5M in 4% LIHTC equity syndicated by Wells Fargo; $850,000 from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas; $2.5M in Capital Magnet Funds; a $2M sponsor loan from Foundation Communities; and $8.9M in AHFC debt financing through the Rental Housing Development Assistance (RHDA) program. The AHFC funding for RHDA includes over $8.4 million in Project Connect dollars and $436,331 from 2022 GO Bonds.  

Public art sits at prominent locations throughout the site, and a host of amenities including playgrounds, fitness stations, a walking trail, and a ball court provide opportunities for physical activity. Sustainability and durability are critical factors in the selection of materials and systems for the building as well as key design features throughout the community.  

For more information on developing affordable housing in Austin, visit www.austintexas.gov/housing


Outdoor spaces include courtyards, fitness stations, a walking trail, playgrounds, and a ball court. (Spring Architects) 

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About the City of Austin Housing Department 
The City of Austin Housing Department provides equitable and comprehensive housing, community development, and displacement prevention to enhance the quality of life of all Austinites. To access affordable housing and community resources, visit www.austintexas.gov/housing

About the Austin Housing Finance Corporation
The Austin Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) was created as a public, non-profit corporation and instrumentality of the City of Austin. The mission of the AHFC is to generate and implement strategic housing solutions for the benefit of low- and moderate-income residents of the City of Austin. 

About Foundation Communities 
Foundation Communities is an Austin-based, homegrown nonprofit. Founded in 1990, it provides affordable, attractive homes and free on-site support services for thousands of families, veterans, seniors, and individuals with disabilities. It offers an innovative, proven model that empowers its residents and neighbors to achieve educational success, financial stability, and healthier lifestyles. Foundation Communities owns and operates 25 affordable communities all over Austin and three in North Texas. Visit foundcom.org to learn more.  

About Guadalupe Neighborhood Development Corporation (GNDC)
GNDC is a 501(c)(3) Texas non-profit corporation with over 40 years of service as an affordable housing developer and manager for rental and homeownership opportunities for families with generational ties to East Austin. For more information about the Guadalupe Neighborhood Development Corporation, please visit the website: https://www.guadalupendc.org/ 

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

City Offers Long-Awaited Public Apology to Survivors of Sexual Assault

Today, sexual assault survivors and advocates marked a long-awaited milestone. Two years after the Austin City Council approved a settlement for survivors whose cases were mishandled by the Austin Police Department from 2006-2019, City officials delivered a public apology to 15 plaintiffs. The apology was one of the terms of the settlement, along with significant policy changes and related investments.

In 2022, Council Member Alison Alter authored policy direction alongside the approval of the settlement, to require specialized training for the Sex Crimes Unit and the enactment of reforms identified in an evaluation of Austin’s sexual assault investigation process that she commissioned in 2019.

Alter, who has worked alongside survivors since 2018 to secure budget increases for victim services, improvements to Austin’s DNA testing capacity, and accountability from APD leadership, voiced her gratitude for the plaintiffs and expressed the need for continued progress: “I want to thank the brave survivors who came forward. No one deserves to experience sexual assault, and when it does happen, survivors deserve access to healing and justice. We could not have come this far without you, and we’re not going to stop until anyone who experiences sexual violence in our community can trust that their report will be fully investigated, and their healing will be supported.”

After hearing the apology, the survivors gathered with advocates, attorneys, and Council members outside of City Hall to reflect on the hard-fought progress and the path ahead. “For each of these plaintiffs there are many more individuals who reported an assault and experienced a system that did not support them, or never reported their assault because they didn’t have faith in that system,” Alter remarked. “This moment is meaningful to many in our community.”

She added: “As the last few days have shown, we have a lot more work ahead to make our systems more survivor-focused. I expect each of us, including the Interim City Manager and his appointees, to redouble our commitment to improving our sexual assault response.” 


Winter Aquatic Update: Lifeguard Hiring/Training

 




The Aquatic Division of the Parks and Recreation Department is getting ready for swim season. It takes about 850 lifeguards to fully staff City pools during the summer months. There are currently 235 lifeguards on staff, so hundreds of positions are still open, for now. Hurry because, at $20.80 per hour for entry level positions, these jobs will go fast!

Winter Training
Lifeguard training happens year round. Get your Lifeguard certification or recertification now and start earning sooner. Winter renewal means smaller classes in a heated pool. Everyone must complete the job application and their hiring paperwork before they can register for training. Check out the Lifeguard Certification Schedule and Lifeguard Renewal Class Dates.

Lifeguards Earn $20.80/Hour
Austin hires lifeguards starting at $20.80 per hour. Experienced lifeguards earn even more! Lifeguards get free training and a free uniform. Lifeguard training and hiring starts at age 15 and there is no age limit. Learn more about how to become a lifeguard at LifeguardAustin.com.

$12.5 million in mobility improvements coming to the Seaholm area

 

Austin City Council approved a series of mobility projects around downtown Austin's Seaholm area on Dec. 14. 

Those projects include:

  • Shoal Creek Trail Underpass at the Third Street Bike/Pedestrian Bridge
  • Expanded Third Street Bike/Ped Bridge and Study of the Third Street Trestle Bridge
  • Third Street and West Avenue intersection improvements
  • Sidewalk and trail connectivity along Cesar Chavez Street from B.R. Reynolds Drive to San Antonio Street
  • Trail crossings at West Avenue and Walter Seaholm Drive

The projects are funded through the Seaholm Tax-Increment Reinvestment Zone. The recommendations were made through multiple input sessions between Transportation and Public Works (TPW) staff and stakeholders, Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Council representatives, community based non-profit organizations and others.

You can find more details on the projects in a memo TPW Director Richard Mendoza sent to Mayor Kirk Watson and Council.

Watershed Protection Launches Annual Flood Safety Video Contest for Austin Students

 

Creators of the winning PSAs will receive a $100 gift card and more 

The City of Austin Watershed Protection Department is excited to kick off its annual Flood Safety Video Contest! Students in grades 6 through 12 are invited to create their very own short public service announcement (PSA) teaching drivers how to stay safe when water is covering the road and to “Turn Around - Don't Drown®.”  

Austin is in the heart of Flash Flood Alley. Driving through flooded roads is the leading cause of deaths during a flash flood. This behavior not only puts drivers’ lives at risk, but also the lives of passengers and emergency responders. Watershed Protection invites students to showcase their talents while spreading awareness about safe practices during flooding incidents.  
  • Who: Open to all 6-12 grade students in Austin and the surrounding area. Students may work individually or as a team. 
  • Objective: Create a 30-second PSA showing safe behavior during a flash flood. 
  • Prizes: Winners will recieve a $100 gift card, swag bags, and a chance to be featured on local news stations. 
  • Submission: Videos due by March 31, 2024. 
“With the increasing challenges posed by extreme weather events, it becomes crucial to educate and inform young minds about the importance of flood safety,” said Jorge Morales, Watershed Protection Department Director. “Through this contest, we hope to inspire students to drive change and make a positive impact in their communities.” 

Entries will be judged based on creativity, clarity in messaging, and overall impact. The winners will be announced in April 2024. 

For more details about the contest, please visit www.austintexas.gov/flood-safety-contest

City of Austin Leadership Apologizes to Sexual Assault Victims

City of Austin leaders will formally issue an apology for the mishandling of sexual assault cases by the Austin Police Department, and share changes that ensure sexual assault cases are investigated thoroughly. 

PRESS CONFERENCE, WHO:

Interim Assistant City Manager Bruce Mills
Austin Police Chief Robin Henderson
Austin Police Lt. Chris Leleux
Holly Bowles, Director of Sexual Assault Victim Advocacy, SAFE Alliance

WHEN:
2 p.m. Tuesday, January 23, 2024

WHERE:
Austin City Hall Media Room, 301 W 2nd St.

TO ACCESS THE VIDEO FEED:

Channel 6 ATXN is available on Cable Television by Spectrum, Astound (formerly Grande), as well as via the ATXN app for AppleTV, Roku, Amazon Fire and Google Play.



Thursday, January 18, 2024

View the City of Austin Watershed Protection Department’s 2023 Annual Report

 

The report highlights significant progress in reducing flooding, erosion and water pollution

AUSTIN, TX – The City of Austin Watershed Protection Department announces the release of its 2023 Annual Report, available online now. The report emphasizes the department’s commitment to protecting lives, property, and the environment of the Austin community by reducing the impact of flooding, erosion, and water pollution. Highlights include:  
  • Flooding: Crews cleaned 76,748 feet of storm drain pipeline (that’s like driving from the Broken Spoke to the Domain) and installed or replaced 10,131 feet of storm drain infrastructure (that’s the length of 33 UT Towers).  
  • Erosion: Crews stabilized 7,174 feet of unstable stream channel (that’s about 191 MetroBuses lined up end to end).  
  • Water Quality: The Liberty Park Water Quality Pond Retrofits project prevented 7,900 pounds of pollution from entering the Barton Creek watershed (that’s nearly the same weight as 253,000 Mexican free-tailed bats).  

"Watershed Protection’s core mission is to keep our community safe,” said Jorge Morales, Watershed Protection Department Director. “I’m proud to serve as the department director as we tackle the new challenges that climate change brings. We look forward to serving our community in 2024.”  

Review the full report at Austintexas.gov/Watershed/2023. Residents can stay up to date on the department’s work in 2024 by following Watershed Protection on Facebook and X.  
 
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About Watershed Protection  

The City of Austin Watershed Protection Department protects lives, property and the environment of our community by reducing the impact of flood, erosion and water pollution. Visit AustinTexas.gov/Watershed to learn more.  

City of Austin Activates Cold Weather Shelters on Saturday, Feb. 17  

  Finding the status of shelters by calling 512-972-5055   AUSTIN, Texas -  The City of Austin is opening overnight cold weather shelters on...