AUSTIN (KXAN) — On the same day the Housing Authority of the City of Austin unveiled new affordable housing units in the Zilker neighborhood, the city announced it will launch a training institute in conjunction with the Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation and the Corporation for Supportive Housing.
The institute will encourage and support Austin-area developers in building additional units for people struggling to stay housed in Austin.
“For a decade we were stagnant at 500 total permanent supportive housing units and we’re going to quadruple that number over the next three years,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said of the city’s effort to create affordable housing.
At the same time the city kicked off the initiative, Councilmember Ann Kitchen was unveiling new units at the Pathways at Goodrich Place.
During the pandemic, that complex was turned from a 40-unit space to 120 units of affordable housing with a gym and computer space in something Kitchen called “a great example” of the city re-utilizing space to provide more affordable housing.
“Today is quite a blessing for all our residents,” said Jerry Dawson, a man who lives in the complex and has been the voice of residents there. “Our residents basically gave 80 families the opportunity to live here in the Zilker neighborhood under affordable housing.”
The overall city goal to create more affordable spaces is directly related to the city’s effort to prevent and end homelessness, Adler said. New data from the city showed 90% of the people encountered as a part of the city’s HEAL initiative accepted shelter, but nearly half of them returned to homelessness sometime after.
“For too long we never had places for people to be able to go and that’s why we’ve had encampments and people in tents. It’s not something you can snap your fingers and solve overnight,” Adler said.
The institute will provide training until the end of the year for local developers who will then put together plans to build affordable housing projects. Adler said it’s likely to result in hundreds of units of affordable, permanent housing.