Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Austin City Council discusses affordable housing, gentrification, pride flags

Austin+City+Council+discusses+affordable+housing%2C+gentrification%2C+pride+flags
Julius Shieh

Following a five-item housing finance meeting, The Austin City Council discussed affordable housing, pride flags and new homelessness initiatives in a meeting Aug. 31.

The Austin Housing Finance Corporation meeting kicked off with Agenda Item Two, in which the the City Council approved of a $112.7 million service agreement for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. Local and federal housing funds will supply the partnership, allowing the corporation to manage housing programs including the Homeless Assistance Program, Renter Assistance Program and Homeowner Assistance Program. 

Zenobia Joseph, a speaker at the finance meeting, said she hopes these funds will consider high-opportunity areas west of MoPac lacking attention. She suggested using the money to help increase economic opportunity by adding housing brochures in neighborhoods.

Council approved all items in the housing finance meeting. Excluding Item Two, the City Coucil approved approximately $13 million in loans. The loans include Austin Habitat for Humanity, which Council Member Vanessa Fuentes said will bring 126 affordable homes to Southeast Austin. 

According to Item 87 from the City Council meeting, the Williams Institute estimated Austin has the third largest percentage of LGBTQ+ people in the country. The approval of the item now requires city-owned facilities to display pride flags during Pride Month in June. 

“You know, Texas is a place that a lot of people at times don’t feel comfortable,” Council Member Zohaib Qadri said in the meeting. “They don’t feel safe, and that’s why we lose a lot of really great folks and families. I wanna thank the Council members and all the co-sponsors on this, that even when Texas fails its people, Austin is a city that protects its own and stands up for its own.”

Public speakers debated over Items 113 and 114, the rezoning of Rosewood Neighborhood in attempts to develop more affordable housing. UT architecture professor Charles DiPiazza said in the meeting the retail and more vertical buildings that come with rezoning will increase walkability and affordability. However, Monica Guzman, policy director for Go Austin/Vamos Austin, said this development will encourage gentrification. 

“New developments should come with stronger long-term community benefits and anti-displacement measures,” Guzman said in the meeting. 

The Council approved these items for first reading only, meaning it still has to go through more review before approval. 

Council approved Item 136, authorizing the establishment of a House Our People Endowment Fund, which addresses homelessness with transparent reporting of expenses. Council member Ryan Alter said this allows the council to make long-term investments in people by generating new ongoing funds. 

“Too many of our neighbors are going to bed every night on the hot sidewalk instead of a bed,” Alter said in a meeting. “We all know how to solve this crisis, build the housing people need, and pair it with the support necessary for their success.”

Lastly, Item 42 waived fees on all City-owned public pools except Barton Springs until Sept. 30. 

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About the Contributor
Julius Shieh, Associate Photo Editor
Julius is a third year student from Avon, Connecticut, studying History. He currently serves as the Texan's Associate Photo Editor.