Austin nonprofit proposes low-income apartments downtown


Zen Ren

Two women walk past a parking lot Tuesday afternoon that may soon begin construction for new low-income apartments. Nonprofit organization Foundation Communities is proposing 135 living spaces for the homeless and musicians on a budget and aims to have the affordable complex up in two years.

Kayla Jonsson

The first low-income resident apartment complex in the heart of downtown may soon begin construction, which will provide a refuge for Austin’s starving artists and those looking to get back on their feet.

Foundation Communities, an Austin nonprofit organization whose mission is to end poverty, is proposing to build a low-income apartment complex at Trinity and 11th streets named Capitol Terrace, said Foundation Communities executive director Walter Moreau. The goal of the location is to offer residents who may not have a vehicle an easy commute to work because so many people work at the restaurants and hotels downtown, he said.

The organization is awaiting approval of a $10 million tax credit this summer to fund the new complex, Moreau said. If approved, they will conduct additional fundraising, and construction will start in about one year. The complex will open in two years, he said.

“We are very hopeful and excited this is going to work,” Moreau said. “We already own the property where we want to build the complex so that makes things easier.”

Moreau said 135 efficiency apartments, big enough for one resident each, will be offered. Prices will range from $400 to $650 a month, focusing on people making less than $27,000 a year, he said.

Ten of the apartments will be reserved for artists and musicians, Moreau said.

“Austin prides itself as being the “Live Music Capital of the World” and lots of musicians play downtown but can’t afford it,” he said. “We want to support Austin being a music city.”

Twenty-seven apartments will be designated for those coming from homeless shelters. Moreau said Capitol Terrace will work closely with the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless as well as other local homeless shelters.

“This complex is unique in that it is downtown, but it is not Foundation Communities’ first ball game,” said ARCH spokesman Mitchell Gibbs. “They have successfully helped us get people on their feet and moving in the right direction towards independent living for a long time at other locations.”

Gibbs said the downtown location will provide an easier commute for those who have been chronically homeless and still need support from case workers located downtown.

“Those folks who are chronically homeless still need additional help after leaving the ARCH,” Gibbs said. “You can’t just put them in a home and expect them to support themselves. They will have to see a case worker for a while, so this location will make that easier for them.”

Olivia Beck, co-chair of UT’s Hunger and Homelessness Outreach (H2O) and chemical engineering senior, said Capitol Terrace is a good start to assisting low-income Austinites, but there are many more who will still need help.

“Ultimately, 27 apartment [rooms] is nowhere near enough to house Austin’s homeless population,” she said.

Printed on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 as: Nonprofit proposes housing for low-income downtown