AUSTIN (KXAN) — Gina Vasquez and her husband bought their East Austin home off Cameron Road for $58,000 in 1993. These days, it is appraised at $612,000.
“My payment was $436, and that included taxes and insurance,” Vasquez told KXAN. “My [most recent] payment was $850. There’s no way we can afford it.”
At 71 years old, Vasquez said she hopes Austin’s next mayor can help. She is currently throwing her support behind State Rep. Celia Israel.
Israel on Thursday unveiled her six-part plan to improve housing affordability within the city. It includes making it easier to build lower-priced duplexes and quadruplexes rather than single-family homes and building on more city-owned land.
The candidate acknowledged her ideas would be tested by obstacles we’ve seen again and again, like zoning regulations.
“But I do believe just in the last three or four years, we’re in a different space, politically. Some of that is driven by the market,” Israel told KXAN.
The market has sent the median list price for homes in Austin above $600,000 and has pushed many people out of their current neighborhoods or priced out of the ones in which they’d like to live.
KXAN reached out to the four other candidates who have filed to run for mayor.
In a statement, former Austin mayor and state senator Kirk Watson pointed to his record while at the Capitol, including legislation to help relieve property taxes. Watson also said during his time as mayor, he created more infill development.
Real estate business owner Jennifer Virden said she would simplify city regulations to make easier to build and add housing inventory. Like Israel, Virden has her own plan laid out on her website.
UT Austin government student and state legislative intern Phil Brual told KXAN he recently met with Habitat for Humanity and would be announcing his own affordability plan soon focusing on alternatives to single-family homes.
Workout coach Erica Nix said while she considers herself “pro-growth,” she would push for more mandates to include affordable housing within developments.
Back in East Austin, Vasquez said whoever moves into city hall after November’s election, she wants to stay put and stay in her home.
“I’m very happy to live here right now,” she said. “I’m close to everything — the hospital, all the doctors around here, HEB, my neighbors.”