‘This is a problem we can solve’: San Marcos leaders push for more affordable housing options

Hays

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — It’s called the “missing middle,” and many Central Texas cities are looking to fix it. 

San Marcos, just 30 miles south of Austin, is a city with a reputation for affordable living. But now, the San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce and Greater San Marcos Chamber say it’s experiencing its own housing crisis. 

The median price of a home is now $280,000, according to Four Rivers Association of REALTORS. That’s up almost 11% in one year, according to its data.

Data also shows homes are selling 34 days faster on average for more money, and there’s less selection.

San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce and Greater San Marcos Chamber want to zero in on potential solutions. The two organizations held a public panel discussion on Thursday.

Hays County resident Jessica Ross knows the struggle of trying to find a home in San Marcos all too well. She’s glad the topic is getting attention.

“We’ll find something, we’ll fall in love with it, and then the next day, it’s not available,” Ross said.

Ross said they’re going on about a year of searching since they opened their new San Marcos juice bar. 

“It’s frustrating,” Ross said. “Because, even with our son, just trying to find more stability for him.”

Abby Gilfillan, a panelist in Thursday’s discussion, used to work for the City of San Marcos Planning Department. She’s passionate about creating solutions for the housing crisis.

“People can’t afford the model of housing that we’ve been providing,” Gilfillan said.

Gilfillan said there’s a missing middle between the high and low ends.

“Things like townhouses, things like small apartment complexes,” Gilfillan said. “And really, what it’s about too, is an opportunity to provide more housing in the place there are already services, amenities, where you’re close to jobs.”

Gilfillan and other panelists called on city leaders to modify zoning requirements, so more homes like the ones you see in the downtown San Marcos Historic District, which aren’t affected by current zoning laws, can be built. 

“This is a problem we can solve, and we have the tools,” Laura Dupont, the discussion moderator, said. “We just need leaders that are bold enough to take the steps.”

Ross is trying to keep her spirits high as she and her family try to find a house to call home. 

“Hopefully there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” Ross said.

The mayor of San Marcos and other council members were part of Thursday’s discussion.

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