Moving out of Austin: Rising prices driving some families away

Austin

Austin City Council picks up housing relief talks Tuesday

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Waco native Carissa McAtee never imagined she would find herself back in her hometown after moving to Austin a decade ago.

“I never thought I would ever be back in Waco,” said Carissa McAtee.

Carissa McAtee working on her resin creations. (Source: Carissa McAtee)

Now a jewelry creator at Remedy Design Shop, she first moved to Austin in 2011 to pursue her creative dreams.

“I moved for my radio job,” she said.

However, the rise in housing costs in the state’s capital city drove her north. She and her growing family could no longer find a suitable space that offered what they needed at a reasonable price. That issue was only worsened with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When the pandemic hit, (my husband) lost his job and so we just had our handmade business,” he said. “There was no way it was going to work.”

That’s when she and her family decided to leave, and she is not the only one. Brian Talbot and his family also had to find a new home.

Talbot and his family. (Source: Brian Talbot)

“It made us sad to move out of Austin, a city where we made our entire adult life and started our family, but we had to do what’s best for our family,” Talbot said.

The public school teacher moved to Leander.

Thursday, Austin City Council will look at policies and programs that promote the development and preservation of affordable housing. Things like making changes to zoning areas to allow for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) or like a backyard cottage, a garage apartment or pool house. They’re also looking to lift the restrictions surrounding ADUs.

“We’re going to have to do 1,000 different things. No one, two, three or 10 things will deliver the solution,” Adler said. “But remember yet that Austin right now is creating more housing units per capita than any city in the country, so we are doing a lot of things that are right — it’s just amazing that even with it still it’s not enough and we have to do better.”

For her Austin friends, McAtee just hopes there’s some relief on the way soon.

“There are so many people struggling to make ends meet and it makes me very, very sad,” McAtee said.

McAtee continues to travel every weekend to South Congress to set up shop and sell her jewelry.

Council will also hear a resolution that could amend City Code Title 25 to create a voluntary housing incentive program that would allow residential housing in areas normally zoned for commercial buildings.

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