AUSTIN (KXAN) – Austin Habitat for Humanity celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony Friday with some Austin city leaders for the future housing development of 126 affordable homes. 

Homes in the new community, called Persimmon Point, will be available at affordable prices to qualified low-to-moderate-income households, with individuals earning up to 80% of the local median income, around $36,000 annually. 

“We’re looking to help our essential workers, help the people in that 60 to 80% median family income bracket. Homeownership, from a market perspective, is pretty unattainable to those income earners,” said Billy Whipple, Senior Vice President of Construction for Austin Habitat for Humanity.

“They’re out there, they’re working [and] they’re super important people to our community,” he continued. “We want to make sure that they have the option and the opportunity to own a house in Austin if they want to. That’s our goal,” he continued. 

The nonprofit said that this is its most significant project to date. It said that with prices of homes soaring, it is determined to increase the supply of affordable housing in the region. 

The average price of a home in the Austin and Round Rock region has increased by 135% from 2012 to 2022, according to the Texas Real Estate Research Center. In 2012, the average price for a home was $265,563. By 2022, the average home’s price tag jumped up to $625,553, per the research center’s data. 

Mayor Kirk Watson said at the groundbreaking ceremony Friday that initiatives like this are” key” to addressing affordability in Austin to make “sure people can afford in this place we call home.” 

The over 100 homes in the community will include flats and townhomes of up to 1,300 square feet. Qualified families will need to actively engage in the program by attending financial education, volunteering 200 hours of sweat equity and making a financial commitment.  

Those involved will start building the community in 2024 and expect to finish by 2027. Since the non-profit’s inception over three decades ago, Austin Habitat for Humanity has built over 500 homes. 

Stakeholders said Persimmon Point is a collaboration between Austin Habitat for Humanity, the City of Austin and Perez Elementary – a local school. 

“This is a huge deal. This is really going to change kind of how we look at everything. The success of this means a totally new future for affordable homeownership and Austin,” Whipple said. 

Whipple said Austin Habitat for Humanity is excited about bringing more people back to the Southeast Austin neighborhood which is near onion Creek and E William Cannon Drive. The neighborhood has suffered a couple of devastating floods in the last decade – one in 2013 killed four people and damaged hundreds of homes.

Since then, several studies evaluating flooding along Onion Creek have been conducted, and the City of Austin determined that buyouts were the most effective way to protect the public and first responders from flood risks.

“We’ve had this vision of getting folks back into this community, getting students back into the schools and really trying to build the community back up,” Whipple said.