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Study reveals district-by-district affordability needs

Housing Works Austin completed a study revealing district-by-district affordability needs

AUSTIN -- The City of Austin constantly tops lists as the best place to live, work and play; but it hasn't always been that way.

"I grew up when Austin was segregated," said District 3 City Council Member Sabino Renteria. "So when I used to go downtown, it was, you know we were always reminded that we weren't welcome in South Austin or west of Congress."

Renteria now represents the place he's always lived, East Austin. Specifically District 3 that includes East Cesar Chavez and Southeast Austin.

District 3 is rapidly changing, partly due to gentrification, but it still faces issues when it comes to equity and affordability. Earlier this month Housing Works Austin, a nonprofit that researches, educates and advocates affordable housing, released a district-by-district analysis of housing needs.

"Just being from Austin and knowing Austin you think, well I know where rich people live. I know where poor people live," said Mandy DeMayo, executive director at Housing Works Austin. "An interesting take away was that there is poverty and homelessness in every single city council district."

District 3 seems to top the list when it comes to factors impacting affordability. Twelve percent of the city's homeless are in District 3, falling second only to downtown where 40 percent of the city's homeless population resides. DeMayo also pointed out the homeless shelters are downtown.

District 3 has the highest percentage of people living below the poverty rate at 36.4 percent and 28,940 people below the poverty rate. District 3 residents also have the lowest median family income at $36,185.

There are more subsidized housing units in District 3 than anywhere else and it has the lowest percentage of homeowners in the city with just 26 percent of people owning homes while 74 percent are renters.

"Surprisingly, across the board, home prices, for sale home prices are high and no where is it more obvious than in District 3," said DeMayo. "If you live in District 3 and you're trying to buy a home in District 3, it's out of reach."

Renteria said he doesn't see an easy or fast solution to the problems his district is facing; but adds he is working with the mayor to secure more affordable housing.

Affordability is defined as a person having to pay no more than 30 percent of their salary toward housing expenses, including rent or a mortgage, insurance and utilities.

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