2018 Affordable Housing Bond Campaign - FAQs

What is affordable housing? Is it public housing?

The affordable housing bond program is a uniquely Austin partnership of City funds with proven, successful private and non-profit organizations to create and maintain affordable houses and apartments in Austin. Local organizations that have used bond money to expand their housing services include Habitat for Humanity, Foundation Communities, and Meals on Wheels and More. Residents helped by the housing bonds pay rent or have put equity in their home. The houses and apartments created by the affordable housing bonds are not public housing or Section 8.

Who is supporting Keep Austin Affordable?

Keep Austin Affordable is a diverse coalition of affordable housing and service providers, passionate individuals, community groups, and business leaders. Following the success of the 2013 campaign, Keep Austin Affordable continued to exist as a public resource for those interested in the implementation of the bonds and to maintain the relationships that were critical to the city-wide initiative for greater investment in affordable housing.

Who would be helped by these bonds?

Affordable housing bonds would be used to build new houses and apartments as well as repair and renovate existing homes for families whose total income is 50% or less of median family income. Currently, this would mean under $33,000/year for married couples and under $41,000/year for a family of 4. Many of these families are service industry workers, child care providers, construction workers and even some public employees. This would also included seniors on fixed incomes, homeless veterans, and people with disabilities.

Keep Austin Affordable believes our community is better off when low wage workers and their families can find affordable housing in the city.

Why do we need affordable housing bonds?

Housing prices are sky high…and Austin remains one of the ten most expensive rental markets in America. Tens of thousands of Austin area families cannot find affordable housing. Many are service industry workers, child care providers, construction workers and even some public employees. They’re literally being priced out of town. Housing bonds are used by private and non-profit organizations to attract additional outside funds to build and renovate affordable housing for these families.

Why is a new bond package needed?

The first and second successful affordable housing bonds were passed by a majority of Austin voters in 2006 and 2013 respectively. The bonds were used in partnership with private and non-profit organizations to build thousands of attractive houses and apartments all over the city and renovate and repair existing houses to help seniors stay in their homes. All of the bond dollars from both packages have been spent or allocated to developments that are currently being built. We need another set of housing bonds to address the rising rental and housing market to ensure current Austin residents are not priced out of town.

How were the 2006 and 2013 bonds spent? What was the community impact?

In 2006, the voters of Austin approved the first ever affordable housing bonds, totaling $55 million. These funds were used to build and repair over 3400 homes for low-income families, people with disabilities, and seniors on fixed incomes. The bonds were also used to bring in an additional $197 million in federal and private matching money, a 4:1 match, and created 2500 new jobs.

All of the 2006 bond dollars were spent.

In 2013, the voters of Austin approved a second bond package, totalling $65 million. These funds were used to repair over 1,200 homes for Austin homeowners, and built hundreds of deeply affordable rental units that working families are now living in. In addition, the 2013 bonds continued to attract dollars from the Federal government for a 7:1 leverage ratio.

All of the 2013 bond dollars have been spent or dedicated to a service, meaning the need to pass new bonds to continue to address affordability is critical

How will these new housing bonds be put to use?

The proposed $250 million in new housing bonds will be used in the same way as the 2006 and 2013 bonds, building and repairing new homes and apartments for low-income families, people with disabilities, and seniors on fixed income can afford. In addition, the larger bond amount will allow The City to purchase land for future affordable housing developments.

What are the tax implications for voters?

The City Council’s proposed amount of $250 million for affordable housing is within the City of Austin’s current bonding capacity, which means there would be no property tax increase to pay for these bonds if the housing bonds were passed alone. However, the City Council is planning to place other important bond items on the ballot. Combined, the total bond package will cause the average taxpayer to see a modest increase in their property tax bill.

The $925 million bond package passed by Council in June would cost the average homeowner roughly

$60/year, or $5/month on the their property tax bill.

Why should the city continue to invest in affordable housing?

Austin continues to be an economically vibrant, rapidly growing city. This trend will continue to put pressure on both home and rental markets. Without investment from the City of Austin, families who work hard but do not earn a living wage and individuals on fixed incomes like seniors and people with disabilities will continue to find it a challenge to afford to live in the City they call home. If our shared values and vision for Austin include diversity and inclusivity, we must act with conviction and vote to invest in affordable housing.