Let's push for a big housing bond in 2018


#1

Julio at Keep Austin Wonky has a proposal for a $270mm housing component to the 2018 City bond package: https://keepaustinwonky.com/2017/11/30/city-bond-2018/

Let’s go a bit bigger. AURA and the DSA have both endorsed $300mm for housing in 2018. I’m going to propose we join them in calling for this as part of our broad pro-inclusion, pro-housing agenda.

Working on a breakdown of that 300m to call for – Like Julio, I think I’d shrink the relative size of homeownership and home repair programs in favor of expanding resources targeted at low-income renters, including both supplemental vouchers and public housing construction/expansion.

What do y’all think? I’d like to get this up for a vote ASAP and ideally have the vote finished by the end of the first week of March.


#2

Seems like a great idea. We should be expanding market rate housing as well as providing meaningful money towards affordable housing. If others think we should have a vote on it, we just need someone to come up with the wording of the vote.


#3

I oppose any more bonds for Affordable Housing until vast increases in market supply are allowed to occur. These bonds disproportionately hurt the lowest-income property owners and renters who are just above the line (especially when used to purchase market-rate properties, as is often done).

CodeNEXT isn’t there. Not even close. Until it is, I’m a loud no.


#4

DSA’s housing bond demands: https://docs.google.com/document/d/19zpcaUnJbaUfHo68WKat9mczmbQxQiJZVhTG1xXM1dc/edit

We’re looking for ideas to make an amendment to specify more detail on what type of housing and where it should be built – there may also be a case to be made that such detail is best resolved after passage of the bond. Either would be welcome.

How do you figure that an affordable housing bond hurts low-income property owners? Spending more to subsidize housing construction, community land trusts, etc., in a massively supply-constrained market is crucial. It will take years for us to fill the supply-demand gap – we need to use every tool we can to start immediately.


#5

No one else interested in pushing for a big housing bond? Seems like a missed opportunity, but OK.


#6

@mark.mccartney, if you are writing the resolution please consider deleting any reference to ‘we demand’.

I don’t see any reason to specify any $ amount for land (nor any sub category), nor do I see land acquisition as a need much less a priority. Austin has more than enough City owned land to address the problem. Maybe I am missing something, but I would rather preclude it without changing the $300M. It would surprise me if other voters do not share the same initial reaction and be looking for actionable fast results type proposals - especially on homelessness which is the most visible crisis to the average voter.


#7

Any interest in also asking the city to explore setting up their own housing voucher program as a component of the bond?

This is likely late in the process but I think that in the long term, a housing voucher system can provide some much needed flexibility to many people in need of assistance.

https://twitter.com/chris78701/status/844962519194222593

If the city had $11B or $6B housing fund, they could provide ~$27.5M or $16.2M, respectively, in housing vouchers/month
h/t:@josiahstevenson https://t.co/lPQkLMi86G

— Kaz🏚🚍🚏🚲🏃🏘️🏙🌐 (@chris78701) March 23, 2017

#8

What about the following wording? Hopefully it takes into account most of the concerns about the issue too. If we want to, let’s go ahead and start the vote soon though, so if anyone has any suggestions, please let us know as soon as you can. Do we want to provide anything about housing vouchers, etc.?

Friends of Austin Neighborhoods Affordable Housing Bond Demands

Austin is in a housing crisis. To truly be an inclusive city, we need to make sure we build enough housing so that longtime residents and newcomers alike have a place to live. The market won’t build enough on its own; we need public investment to ensure homes for people from all income levels.

Recently, Portland, Seattle, and Los Angeles passed housing bonds of $260 million, $500 million, and $1.2 billion, respectively. Austin will vote on an affordable housing bond in November 2018, but the initial figure of $85 million would barely address the city’s need for 48,000 affordable units. Our current bond proposal must be increased as much as possible to fund housing directly and to help leverage funds for new construction. Austin can do better!

Friends of Austin Neighborhoods therefore demands:

  • That the bond’s allotment for affordable housing be as high as possible to adequately address the affordability crisis impacting working people in Austin, and be at a minimum $300 million;
  • That no less than $100 million be dedicated to Land Acquisition to support permanent affordability through public land, expansion of community land trusts, and land banking in areas that are susceptible to gentrification and displacement as identified by Mueller et al.1;
  • That no less than $115 million be dedicated to Rental Housing Development Assistance to expand affordable housing options for working class Austinites and address chronic shortages in housing targeted to people experiencing homelessness in areas already suffering from gentrification and displacement as identified by Mueller et al.;
  • That a significant portion of the affordable housing funds be targeted to public housing, affordable housing cooperatives of all types, and community land trusts;
  • That elected officials responsible for spending the bond show accountability by consulting tenant unions, renter organizations, people experiencing homelessness, and people of color throughout the period of the bond for their feedback with neighborhood meetings designed to engage those not traditionally well-represented by the political process;
  • That no money be allocated to buying existing multifamily structures;
  • That no money be allocated to repair/remodel assistance program;
  • That calculations of affordability for residents be based on the complete cost of living including housing, transportation, and energy costs; and
  • That the target of this bond be ensuring people at every level of income have the ability to live in every neighborhood in Austin.

Of the FAN membership, we ask the following:

  • That members contact their City Council representatives and appropriate Commissioners to support this position; and
  • That members commit resources in the form of canvassing and advocacy during 2018 in support of passing an affordable housing bond meeting the above criteria.

1 Mapping Vulnerability to Gentrification and Displacement Study (Elizabeth Mueller, Jake Wegmann, and Heather Way, University of Texas at Austin)


#9

Thoughts:

  • I like “We demand”. If we’re going to support something, let’s be full-throated about it
  • I think taking out the specific dollar amounts for subcategories would be better, actually
  • I…kind of like the countercyclicality argument Julio made in his original blog about this, although might be too subtle a point for this.
  • I think we should as for either “every central neighborhood” or “high opportunity areas” rather than the Mueller et al areas

#10

So I’d ideally change the bullet list to:

Friends of Austin Neighborhoods therefore demands:

  • That the bond’s allotment for affordable housing be as high as possible to adequately address the affordability crisis impacting working people in Austin, and be at a minimum $300 million;
  • That as much as possible be dedicated to Land Acquisition to support permanent affordability through public land, expansion of high-density community land trusts, and land banking in all central neighborhoods, especially in high-opportunity areas.
  • That a significant portion of the affordable housing funds be targeted to public housing, affordable housing cooperatives of all types, and community land trusts;
  • That no money be allocated to buying existing multifamily structures;
  • That no money be allocated to repair/remodel assistance program;
  • That calculations of affordability for residents be based on the complete cost of living including housing, transportation, and energy costs; and
  • That the target of this bond be ensuring people at every level of income have the ability to live in every neighborhood in Austin.

#11

That looks great. Works for me.


#12

Land banking is almost as bad as buying multi family housing to convert into AH. This is a bad idea. No bond this large should be floated while the market is so tightly constrained.


#13

Land banking is almost as bad as buying multi family housing to convert into AH

It’s not though

No bond this large should be floated while the market is so tightly constrained.

We should call for a large bond because the market is so tightly constrained


#14

Actually – I though this was clearer, but let’s clarify that what we want most of the money going to is

  1. Buying land that isn’t entitled for multifamily (ideally: single-family near schools)
  2. Zoning Public
  3. Building multifamily public housing on it

#15

So maybe that changes the list to something like

Friends of Austin Neighborhoods therefore demands:

  • That the bond’s allotment for affordable housing be as high as possible to adequately address the affordability crisis impacting working people in Austin, and be at a minimum $300 million;
  • That as much as possible be dedicated to acquisition of land that is not entitled for multifamily housing, and building multifamily public housing on it – especially in central neighborhoods.
  • That a significant portion of the affordable housing funds be targeted to public housing, affordable housing cooperatives of all types, and high-density community land trusts;
  • That no money be allocated to buying existing multifamily structures;
  • That no money be allocated to repair/remodel assistance program;
  • That calculations of affordability for residents be based on the complete cost of living including housing, transportation, and energy costs; and
  • That the target of this bond be ensuring people at every level of income have the ability to live in every neighborhood in Austin.

#16

@mdahmus What about including something like the following?

“For bond money to be the most effective substantial increases in market rate housing should also be legalized in central Austin neighborhoods, especially in high-opportunity areas.”


#17

It is hard to entertain the idea of a housing bond after looking at my new TCAD appraisal the other day. Spread the costs to the majority who will receive no direct benefits to a few luck lottery winners is no long term solution…Also are all costs accounted for beyond the proposed $300M? If converting private property with no or few tax exemptions to city owned tax-free properties then those costs should be added to the total.
The bulk of affordable housing in Austin was created by the market - you know renters/buyers in tandem with developers and lenders - and that is where the long term solution lies.

As far as “That the target of this bond be ensuring people at every level of income have the ability to live in every neighborhood in Austin.” Where in the world has this ever happened? What mechanism, if not pricing, is there to decide who can afford to live in areas where the demand exceeds the supply?


#18

Greg has it correct. Based on the ‘musical chairs’ model of housing supply/demand, if you supply X ‘Affordable Units’ but don’t actually GROW supply by X in the process, the only thing you’re doing is knocking the X poorest participants in the market out of the game.

To me, then, the moral requirement is that increases in supply be not done at the same time (since I don’t trust this to happen), but as a prerequisite to more public housing. And the new supply must be quite a bit larger in number than the intended public housing unit additions, because we have to fund them through taxes. And because we have to fund them through taxes, those new market units MUST be profitable from a tax vs service perspective, i.e. sprawl single-family housing doesn’t actually help here.

IE, before I’m willing to support X subsidized units, you MUST change the rules so the market will supply an additional CX apartment units first, where C is a very large constant.


#19

Which is why we’re specifically calling for only types of spending that increase unit count

To me, then, the moral requirement is that increases in supply be not done at the same time (since I don’t trust this to happen), but as a prerequisite to more public housing.

so…hold up one method of adding chairs until we do another method of adding chairs? I don’t think that’s wise and definitely don’t see how it could be a “moral requirement”


#20

We’re not going to agree on this. Your current proposal weakly calls for some increased supply but also doesn’t make it a non-negotiable point. For example: “That as much as possible be dedicated to acquisition of land that is not entitled for multifamily housing, and building multifamily public housing on it – especially in central neighborhoods.” - this is a cop-out that still lets them go grab a bunch of MF-zoned (or even rezoneable SF land).

I also don’t believe the proposal you have on the table has any chance of being passed by current council.

If you want to strengthen the language to say “we support the bond ONLY IF these conditions are met AND OTHERWISE we will vociferously oppose”, then I’d be reluctantly on board as a compromise position. But you have to be willing to oppose AURA to do this, and obviously you wouldn’t do that. Even Pete’s language of “should also” does not make it non-negotiable.

The real proposal I’d support is to say “increase zoning capacity by X,000 highly-profitable units and ONLY THEN will we support floating a bond”. IE, the supply increase for the market has to happen first.