AUSTIN (KXAN) — With apartment rent prices ballooning across Austin, college students fear they’re being squeezed out.
Now, a student-led city commission is readying to deliver some suggestions to city leaders.
University of Texas at Austin student Edwin Bautista drafted the document that will be up for a vote. The graduate student told KXAN he would love to live near campus, but he just can’t afford it.
“I’ve been commuting for the past three years,” Bautista said. “I will say the last year has been the worst.”
“We’re trying to help the city understand these problems from a student perspective,” he added.
The commission recommendations include:
- Directing the city manager and Housing and Planning Department to collaborate with housing nonprofits including student housing cooperatives (co-ops) to develop more affordable housing
- Directing the city manager and Housing and Planning Department to “increase transparency and accessibility” of the University Neighborhood District Housing Trust Fund
- Requesting the city manager to work with the director of the Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Office to reassess part of the University Neighborhood Overlay’s (UNO)
UNO is a bonus structure designed to increase housing density within UT’s West Campus neighborhood and encourage the development of affordable housing.
The overlay allows developers to build more units than allowed by a site’s base zoning if a certain number of those units are deemed to be S.M.A.R.T. housing, which stands for safe, mixed-income, accessible, reasonably priced and transit-oriented.
Despite all the growth and newly-available apartments within West Campus, many students remain priced out.
KXAN spoke with Awais Azhar, a board member with HousingWorks, a local nonprofit that works to address affordability issues.
Azhar is also a UT doctoral student who’s lucky enough, he said, to live at a university-owned apartment complex off West Sixth Street.
“In just the last year we saw rents going up throughout Austin, and you can imagine what that’s doing for students,” Azhar said. “It’s really hard for them.”