As Austin’s housing market tightens, our low-income renters continue to be the most impacted. Austin has lost thousands of market-rate affordable housing and continues to see affordability disappear. Many Austinites have abruptly lost their homes and are subsequently pushed out of the city altogether. AURA recognizes the need to help displaced families find homes in Austin, which is why it endorses a Tenant Relocation Assistance ordinance.
The city’s lack of abundant housing has created a “seller’s market.” Property owners who lease cheaper, older units are not incentivized to maintain safe and healthy places to live or provide tenants with services beyond what is legally required (if that). In a seller’s market, landlords are able to milk properties and provide minimal upkeep. Eventually, they may kick tenants out and shut down their revenue-generating property to make way for Class-A units rented or sold at high market rates.
This disproportionately affects low-income and marginalized families. Tenants lose their homes, are caused undue stress, and have few to no options in Austin for affordable housing. Moving is stressful for anyone, but even harder for families with children in school and limited flexible income, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. This is happening at a rapid rate, especially in our gentrifying neighborhoods. City Council must act quickly to put in place guidelines to ensure that residents are given ample time and resources to find new homes.
AURA believes unsafe housing, tenant displacement, and the overall lack of affordable housing throughout Austin are just symptoms of greater issues at hand. If Austin does not promote measures for abundant housing in all neighborhoods, our affordable housing stock will continue to fall apart and be replaced with homes too expensive for middle and low-income classes. While a tenant relocation assistance program would not address the greater housing market issues, it is a much needed intermediate measure to ensure that Austin’s most vulnerable communities are treated humanely and provided assistance so they can stay in our city and at our schools.