FAN Needed to Talk about Affordability

"‘Austin Artists’ is broadcast live each Monday 1:00 pm CT on 91.7 FM & worldwide on, and the organizers collaborate with “Reflections of Community OUtreach”… They’re looking for a member of FAN who can participate in a discussion of affordability. Previous shows have featured experts from CodeNEXT, Imagine Austin, alley flat initiative, and more.

Who would like to represent FAN and our vision of affordability through welcoming residents of all socioeconomic backgrounds in our neighborhoods, abundant and diverse housing needed to accommodate them, and the amenities and jobs that create a walkable environment?

Details are TBD, but this affordability series would start in April and occur monthly, so you would participate in one of those broadcasts.

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I’m a fan of KOOP radio. I’ll do it.

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Great! We’ll probably want to have a quick strategy meeting before the event takes place.

Any other volunteers? We may be able to have a panel of three people.

:raising_hand: I’d be happy to volunteer.

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Would love to contribute, so please throw my name in the hat.

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Austin Artists

Show Host(s): Greg Ciotti and ‘Art Smith’

Focus on artists and art events in austin; interviews where artists can talk about their art, the inspiration, process and events

Genre and Type of Show:
Public Affairs
On KOOP Radio

Mondays at 1:00pm

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Roger … I’m an economist and could speak on the economics of affordability.

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@gerald thanks for volunteering! happy to have you, @cevangill, or even both replace me on the list as trained economists. it is a valuable perspective to have, as will that of people who do not have a specialized degree in the field - so looks like a great panel!

Not sure what the latest is on this, but I’d be happy to help!

I will post this elsewhere as a top-level, but for those working on the issue:

City of Austin is hosting some talks on the Austin Housing Plan from March 29th to April 28th in each of the 10 Districts.

Austin Housing Plan

Our goal is to increase housing choices available to all Austinites. The Austin Housing Plan will include numerical goals, timelines, and strategies to maintain and create affordable housing for a range of incomes throughout the city, as envisioned in Imagine Austin.

The plan will help align resources, ensure a unified strategic direction, and help facilitate community partnerships to achieve this shared vision. The Plan will explore funding mechanisms, potential regulations, and other creative approaches the City of Austin should utilize to achieve housing goals.

Is this the Annual Action Plan?

No, the Annual Action Plan of Neighborhood Housing and Community Development focuses on federal funding through four U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) formula grants. This annual action plan required by the federal government is more limited in scope than the Austin Housing Plan; the good news is these plans will complement each other. For more information on the Annual Action Plan click here (in English) or here (in Spanish).
Get Involved!

The Austin Housing Plan will address these topics and we want to hear from you.

  • How might we ensure our children can afford to live in Austin?
  • Where should Austinites who work hard – cooking food, watching your children, and caring for the sick – be able to afford to live?
  • The cost of housing is inter-connected with City decisions around job access, parking, permitting, and housing types allowed. For City leaders, doing nothing different is not an option. So, which changes can we all live with?

'1. Community Events - 12 Events all over Austin - Find one near you!
2. Housing Conversation Kit is a unique opportunity for groups to provide input for Austin’s Housing Plan. Anyone can be a host and lead a small-group discussion with self-guided activities designed to capture your ideas. Want a free Housing Conversation Kit? To request a kit, click here.
3. Austin Housing Survey on household affordability will be available in April in English and Spanish. Join the housing e-mail list to be notified of the new survey.

@carlwebb, @skylar_buffington, @Phil_Wiley, @gerald, and @cevangill:

Quinten Rhea, host of the KOOP radio series, “Reflections of Community Outreach” has solidified a date with FANs to share their perspectives on affordability and community on the Monday, June 6th program.

91.7 FM /
’Reflections of Community Outreach’
Monday, June 6, 2016 from 1 - 1:30 PM

We may be able to get a little more time if need be. Please let me know if you are able to make it so I can give a headcount. If you can make it, please also put it on your personal calendar. It’s on the FAN neighborhood events calendar. We’ll meet some time before the event to get our thoughts together.

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@carlwebb, @skylar_buffington, @Phil_Wiley, @gerald, and @cevangill:

Would any of you like to come to our meetup on Saturday, or our Board meeting on Monday, or really even organize another ad-hoc meeting so we can collaborate on this opportunity?

I’ll try to get myself to a completely different Org meeting tonight where I think I’ll run into some of you and talk about it in person there too.

@alyshalynn, thanks for your leadership on this and many other issues.

It may be helpful at this point to do a “doodle poll” of calendar availability of those who have volunteered for a prep session. Time is short (30 minutes) and likely there are many different valued perspectives to add to the conversation, so at least for me, it will be helpful to know what people want to contribute so our thoughts are not replicated, and, to the extent possible, are complimentary.


I’ve set up a pretty cursory poll for availability on this prep meeting, and am also more than happy to set up an email chain if any of you want to be included that way. Please feel free to private message me with your contact info to get something like that started. If you have another preferred way to pull teams together (Facebook Group, Slack, Google Group, etc), I’m sure we could work something out, but I’m trying to keep the barrier of entry to this conversation as low as possible for everyone since we’re just a few weeks out.

Let’s use this thread to get any agendas, outlines or minutes shared with each other and the members of FAN in general once we get a direction agreed upon.

Also, be sure that the date of the actual show is on your calendars:
June 6, 1-1:30pm - It’s a Monday during the work-day.
I’m usually a bit free the first week of a month. I have it blocked off on my calendar, but I can’t make any promises that I could definitely be there. I’m pretty booked on the weekends and some days in the next few weeks, but I don’t think I’d need to be overly included in these talks. I’m happy to do so though if all of our schedules align.

I made a post over on the thread discussing our recent Housing Types resolution where I presented links and excerpts on three articles relating to how housing diversity (or a lack of it) can affect affordability. I’d love to see a way to include the issues of school funding and declining enrollment since that’s a prime topic in Austin right now.

I’m sure the rest of you have resources to share and cite as well that could be helpful.


Thank you for helping us get started. The past week has been a little jumbled, so I definitely appreciate all the initiative and organization!

Why don’t we use the FAN forum? We’re already here. :relaxed: We can either use a group message (which doubles nicely as an email thread), or if we think we might need a few different conversations happening at once (or multiple email chains) then it’s pretty easy to setup a private category restricted to this group. We’d just have to ask someone with the right permissions (@staff) reeeaaallly nicely.

I’m currently planning to come creep on the FAN Board meeting this evening, too. :deciduous_tree::eyes::deciduous_tree:

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I’m happy to keep conversations here. I do have the credentials to edit things here in the forums, but I just haven’t actually done that because others FANs in the group here have been so on top of it all. I’ll try to brush up on that skill myself though.

Looking forward to seeing you tonight, @skylar_buffington
Do you have a particular perspective you want to represent?

I imagine since the program is only 30 min long, and they’ll probably do a few minutes of intros, that leaves us about 25 minutes on conversation to work with. So each FAN rep there should be prepared to talk about at least one perspective on affordability as the topic arises. If there’s 3 FANs that’s about 8-9 min/person, but it includes some back and forth with the show’s host.

I’d say we should not only champion our beliefs, and the research that shows we’re on the right side of history here, but also be able to refute some of the common oppositional arguments.

This is kinda what I think the at least the prepwork for show would look like, although I’m sure the conversation might actually bounce around a bit IRL. So let’s get a few people to put a hand up to talk about one issue as an “expert” if you will.
(e.g. Supply/Demand curves of housing & infrastructure, Lack of diversity of housing types affecting a lack of affordability especially relevant for artists and service industry workers, Lack of affordability affecting ability for families to live near & fund the public school systems through their taxes, Middle-class flight to suburbs affecting sprawl & increasing the aggregate number of previously greenfield acres being developed + the contribution to the costs of increased transportation needs, anything else a FAN feels particularly strong defending)

Perspective 1

  • Point / Counterpoint
  • Point / Counterpoint
  • Point / Counterpoint

Perspective 2

  • Point / Counterpoint
  • Point / Counterpoint
  • Point / Counterpoint

Perspective 3

  • Point / Counterpoint
  • Point / Counterpoint
  • Point / Counterpoint

Ideally tie it all back to how groups like FAN and places like this forum allow for a greater participation by including an audience that can’t always make it to meetings at 7pm on Mondays, or what ever other barrier of entry you think traditional Neighborhood Associations have fostered over these past year’s of Austin’s growth. Also, the FAN official resolutions we’ve been passing that then go out as letters of support for initiatives such as CodeNext & Funding Bike/Ped Master plans where professional’s with a lot of experience have drafted solutions for us and already make room for the thoughtful kinds of growth we’d like to see in the City.

I’m really looking forward to the KOOP conversation and the exchange of ideas leading up to it!

We should use the FAN forum insofar as we’re holding the preparatory conversation online. In general, our preferred practice to hold conversations transparently and “out in the open”. So this current forum topic is perfectly suitable for exchanging ideas and perspectives about affordability and how it relates to the FAN vision. Meeting in person (thanks, @Phil_Wiley and @alyshalynn) will complement and enrich the online conversation.

Here are some ideas to include in an “outline” for our KOOP appearance.

Household Affordability - One aspect of affordability that aligns with the FAN vision is Imagine Austin’s concept of “household affordability”. “Household affordability” refers to the combination of housing, transportation, and utility costs. As we make decisions about how our neighborhoods will grow and welcome new people, we have to consider the implications on transportation and utility costs, not just housing costs.

The appendix of the 2014 Comprehensive Housing Market Analysis showed that transportation costs are nearly as high as housing costs for residents in many neighborhoods in our city. Imagine Austin lists the number and per capita “cost burdened households” (as measured by combined housing, transportation, and utility costs) as a metric our city should use for determining whether we are meeting our goals of affordability.

Conditional Density Programs - I should also mention studies showing that the so-called “density bonus” programs that are in vogue with some city officials may actually worsen affordability. According to the studies, unconditionally relaxing restrictions on abundance and diversity of housing tends to result in greater overall affordability than requiring developers to set aside “affordable” units.

For example, Powell and Stringham wrote:

“Economics shows that all income levels benefit even when new construction is high-priced. The reason is . . . the interaction between the various housing markets, which includes the market for new housing and the market for existing housing.”

“[P]olicies that restrict the supply of new market-rate housing make all income levels worse off.”

[I]nclusionary zoning is . . . a price control that leads to a decrease in the amount of housing."

“Offsetting benefits, such as density bonuses, does not eliminate the costs imposed by inclusionary zoning . . . . Builders do not simply absorb this tax as a cost of doing business, nor do they continue to provide the same number of homes.”

Aging and the Housing Pipeline - Older housing tends to be more affordable. When we add new housing or replace old housing, it usually is relatively expensive. However, today’s expensive housing will become tomorrow’s more affordable housing. Expending our efforts trying to preserve existing affordable units - to the exclusion of expanding the supply of housing in high-demand neighborhoods - will only exacerbate our affordability crisis, especially in the long run. We need to dramatically and persistently feed the housing pipeline to slow the increase in housing costs in the short run, and to bring housing costs down in the medium and long term.

Gentrification and Segregation - Gentrification and the displacement of long-time residents of color and modest incomes is an important concern, but we should not lose sight of the other side of the coin. As @niran has powerfully expressed in other forums, many of our highest-demand neighborhoods are impenetrable to all but the weathiest (and often whitest) Austinites, resulting in de facto segregation. It’s just as important to provide opportunities for people of all socioeconomic backgrounds to live in our neighborhoods as it is to address displacement. If, as a result of our land development code, there is no available housing for new neighbors, then it’s mathematically impossible to provide these opportunities.

Here are some excerpts from an analysis of the impact of housing supply on opportunity and displacement in the Bay Area:

“Another result of too little housing construction is that more affluent households, faced with limited housing choices, may choose to live in neighborhoods and housing units that historically have been occupied by low-income households. This reduces the amount of housing available for low-income households.” - page 8

“Between 2000 and 2013, low-income census tracts (tracts with an above-average concentration of low-income households) in the Bay Area that built the most market-rate housing experienced considerably less displacement” - page 9

“[D]isplacement was more than twice as likely in low-income census tracts with little market-rate housing construction (bottom fifth of all tracts) than in low-income census tracts with high construction levels (top fifth of all tracts).” - page 9

“Our analysis, however, finds that market-rate housing construction appears to be associated with less displacement regardless of a community’s inclusionary housing policies.”

Other topic ideas?


This so true, yet often overlooked. I’ve heard so much at City Hall about affordable housing over the past year, but so little about reducing transportation costs for Austin residents and guests. Affordable Mobility needs to be a major priority so we can make sure Austin’s reputation as a great place to work, play, and live survives our projected growth.

This article from April looks at affordability in terms of the connections between housing and transportation, and how their effectiveness is amplified when people have affordable access to both.

I haven’t taken a look at Pilot Knob from an affordability perspective, yet I have a feeling that the way folks who live in the SMART housing in the development get around might not have been a major consideration. We need to ensure that residents of affordable housing units also have access to affordable mobility.

Rising housing costs are pushing people farther from the City’s core. When coupled with the increasing costs (both time and money) of getting around Austin, we’re decreasing the ability to enjoy our city. Austin itself is becoming a luxury good only accessible to those with the most cash to blow and time to waste.

According to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, at our current rates of growth the average rush hour commute from Downtown to Round Rock in 2035 will be 2.5 hours. That’s insane.

Mayor Adler deemed 2016 “the Year of Mobility”, and my goal is ensure that Mobility is attainable for people of all socioeconomic backgrounds. This will be the Year of Affordable Mobility.

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Do we have any detail behind the recent study that showed Austin’s ranking among the most segregated cities in the country? I’d like to review that along with the California Legislative Office report in more detail (is anyone going to challenge that is a true Democrat party perspective?) and weave some thoughts into a local example.

I’m very familiar with the Bay Area case from having lived there and having experienced economic segregation. At least they acknowledge it, which is why I opposed a one size fits all for Austin. Where Austin loses me on the mendacity scale is on the pretending.that the City center is liberal / progressive / accepting, many are and I applaud their efforts, many are not and we are part of their charade to stifle progress.