Travis County makes affordable housing push with apartment redesigns

Travis County

TRAVIS COUNTY (KXAN) — The Housing Authority of Travis County debuted new renovations to two affordable housing communities on Thursday, a $10.4 million investment paid for with low-income housing tax credits from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.

The Alexander Oaks and Summit Oaks Apartments received a complete facelift, with many units receiving a thorough remodeling. Some apartments received updated appliances like dishwashers, refrigerators and ovens.

The communities are made up of 75 units in Northwest and Southwest Travis County. The low-income housing tax credits totaled $901,883.

“For a single mom coming all the way from Lima, Ohio, it’s hard,” said Keanna Harris, who lives at Alexander Oaks. “We have like 13 kids in my house sometimes!”  

Although tight, the single mom of five can’t afford to begin looking for a new home. “We want people to come visit us and see hey, she’s living real.” 

If you walk through the halls of Harris’ apartment, you’ll see new floors, walls and energy-efficient appliances. 

Harris said, with enthusiasm:

“When I seen the marble counters and the floor and the marble in the showers and the microwave over the stove, oh yeah.”

While the goal is to continue adding new affordable housing developments throughout Travis County, authorities are doing what they can to bring new life to their existing supply. 

“It’s almost like a new lease on life when you think about it,” said Patrick Howard, the CEO and executive director of the Housing Authority of Travis County. “Providing decent shelter, adequate housing is the first step in an individual becoming secure and stable and that’s critical.” 

Howard continued: “As people move here, there is more of a need to ensure that housing is affordable so it really requires everyone to be involved in that process.”

Who qualifies to live in affordable housing? 

Alexander Oaks Apartments are for “low income” households. Most tenants will pay around 30 percent of their “adjusted household income”.  

To qualify, you’ll have to make less than 80 percent of the median income for the area.  

Last year, HUD determined the median family income for the Austin Round Rock MSA was $86,000.

This chart shows you income limits, based on how many people are in your household.  A family of four, would have to earn less than $86,800. 

The waitlist will reopen 

The county has less than 250 affordable housing units and some of those are reserved for senior citizens. That’s why the wait list has been closed since 2013. 

But it’s finally down to about 17 people and will reopen in May. 

Ann Denton, a chairperson for the HATC Board of Commissioners, said this is an ongoing effort to rehabilitate outdated structures and create affordable living situations in an area that has in recent years seen a spike in rising rent prices.

“The rehabilitation of the units at both Alexander Oaks and Summit Oaks Apartments is an important milestone in the 44-year history of HATC, and supports our goal of preserving and maintaining affordable housing for Travis County residents for years to come.”

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