Ben Carson visits Austin for housing redevelopment groundbreaking

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Ben Carson, in his role as secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, came to Austin Wednesday for a groundbreaking of a housing community that is being redeveloped and will offer affordable units.

Goodrich Place is in Austin’s Zilker neighborhood in south Austin at 2126 Goodrich Ave. Its 40 existing housing units will be removed and replaced with 120 mixed-income apartment homes ranging from one to four bedrooms. “All current Goodrich residents will have the right to return to the property once construction is complete,” according to a release.

The area, which will be renamed Pathways at Goodrich Place, will also have a clubhouse, business center, fitness center, laundry facilities, playground and community meeting rooms.

Austin’s Housing Authority plans partnered with private investors and the federal government through the RAD program. It’s a concept championed by Carson.

With shovels in the ground, the first overhaul of an existing affordable housing project begins in Austin. Soon, Goodrich Place will be bigger and more in touch with Austin living today. 

“It’s not just where people live. It’s where people play and what people do when they’re in a living environment,” said Mike Gerber, president of the housing authority. 

He says the 40 older units were too hard and too expensive to keep up with maintenance. So they partnered with a pool of real estate investors — vetted and selected by the federal government — to help them transform a south Austin project. 

Secretary Carson points to similar projects like Manchaca Village, which gets more people involved in the success of a housing project. But tax dollars aren’t as common as they used to be. 

On that, Carson told KXAN, “That is an issue. We’re talking a $21 trillion national debt. But creating an incentive in the local business community and nonprofits to get involved ensures the continued maintenance of the area.” 

That project was made possible through a public-private partnership called the rental assistance demonstration or RAD program. 

According to HACA’s website, every resident has the right to stay in assisted housing and return to an upgraded unit in their original property. Rents will still be based on 30 percent of adjusted household income and no current resident has to reapply to stay at the property. 

HUD says Goodrich place is the 100,000th public housing unit converted with the program. The Housing Authority of the city of Austin also received $15 million in housing tax credits from the state to build the new units alongside its development partners.

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