AUSTIN (KXAN) — A proposed resolution from one of Austin city council’s newest members will lead to a study looking at the stock of affordable student housing and the number of college students who need that help.
Council member Ryan Alter, district 5, authored the resolution, the first of his term. The study was requested by the College Student Commission to get a better understanding of the housing problem affecting students at local colleges and universities.
The resolution, if approved, would direct the city manager to work with colleges on creating a goal for student housing development that can be added to the city’s Housing Blueprint.
“I’m reminded of someone who always used to say, ‘What gets measured gets fixed.’ So, if we are able to measure and set metrics for where we want that metric to go, then I think we can make real progress,” Alter said.
The resolution would also look for solutions to the housing problem, including solutions that were used in the past.
University Neighborhood Overlay
One solution that will be reviewed in this proposed study is the University Neighborhood Overlay program, or UNO.
The UNO program gives builders a density bonus for projects near a college campus. Put simply, builders will be allowed to build more units in a given space than what is normally allowed. This means there will be more apartment units per building that are smaller than your average apartment. In return, the builders will have to offer a certain percentage of those apartments as affordable housing.
UNO was used in West Campus and data from 2018 showed some success. According to a city presentation, 53 projects were constructed that resulted in 800 affordable units with 447 more units in the pipeline.
If the resolution passes on Thursday’s city council meeting, the results of the study, along with recommendations, will be reported by the end of the year.