AUSTIN (KXAN) – At the annual State of the City address, Austin Mayor Steve Adler touched on a number of goals to improve the city of Austin. Issues with transportation, housing and jobs all made the list.
Adler started his speech by talking about the big wins the city had last year. Adler says passing the $720 million mobility bond was a big first step in making streets safer, less congested, and more mobile for everyone.
“This is the best thing we could have done to further our Vision Zero goals and to get traffic moving again, all in one package,” Adler said. “I expect this year we’ll see a lot of sidewalks built all around the city, providing safe routes to schools, while we complete the final designs and prepare for work on major corridors.
Adler also claimed that last year the city was able to effectively end veteran homelessness. “For the first time, we put the people looking for housing in the same room with the people who had housing, business together non-profits, and found that we could accomplish so much more when we all worked together,” said Adler.
Adler then moved on to talk about the big goals of 2017, one of those being affordable housing. The mayor says home prices have hit a record high in Austin with the median-priced home costing $284,000. “If we stay on that path we’re on, we’ll end up like San Francisco where the average house price is $1,150,000 and only the well-to-do and those being subsidized can live.”
Adler claims the city must build at least 135,000 new housing units over the next ten years to fix the shortage of housing. “To do this, we’re going to have to change the way we do things in Austin. In a few weeks, I hope this Council adopts the Strategic Housing Plan as a good start.”
In a meeting before Adler’s speech, he told media that transportation and congestion is also something the city will look at fixing. “We have to be able to move more people, better and smarter in ways other than a single occupancy vehicle,” Adler said.
To do that, Adler says talks about a rail system or other forms of transportation will be discussed in 2017.
“This city doesn’t function going into the future without a much improved transportation system and without significantly greater mobility options for those that live here,” he said.
And if Adler had it his way, those using public transportation in the future will be heading to new jobs. “Our neighbors, fellow Austinites, need mid-income jobs,” said Adler. “We know who needs the jobs in our community. We know the kinds of jobs that employers most need to fill. Which, by the way are information technology, healthcare and skilled trades.”
Adler’s goal over the next five years will be to move 10,000 Austin residents out of poverty by getting them qualified for jobs in those targeted industries. “If we’re going to focus our efforts at bringing the right jobs to town, we need to do more to make sure people who live here and need these jobs are qualified to take them. That’s where the Community Workforce Master Plan comes in.”
To read Mayor Adlers full speech, click here.