SXSW event helps tackle affordable housing in Austin

Affordable housing has become more and more scarce in Austin, but this year one SXSW event hopes to make a difference in the number of homes available to those in need.

It's one of the fastest growing cities in the country and U.S News and World Report calls Austin the best place to live in the U.S.

“That makes me feel good because I'm part of Austin, our business is too, but, at the same time, that means more people are coming and more people means less affordability,” said EnviroMedia CEO Valerie Salinas-Davis.

Affordability is an issue Austin has been struggling with for several years now.
              
“We've got so much work to do on affordability, especially here in East Austin,” said U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, (D) Texas.

Habitat for Humanity is hoping to continue building homes for Austin families that can't afford them.
              
“Habitat for Humanity, through the decades, has done so much for affordability in Austin and there's nothing like going to the opening of a new home for someone who never expected to have one,” Doggett said.

Saturday, an Enviromedia event in East Austin helped support Habitat and the organization's ReStore, where donated items are sold to raise money for families in need.

“When you buy something at the ReStore, you are helping with affordable housing in Austin. It's an incredible revenue generator for Habitat for Humanity, which helps build houses for people who can't afford it, especially in a city that's getting as expensive as Austin is,” Salinas-Davis said.

Just as people in Austin have struggled with finding available housing, the nonprofit has faced similar challenges. Habitat professionals can't find enough affordable plots of land to build on, that's why they have started building up instead of out.

“I think we're having only about six builds in Austin this year and it's way low,” said Salinas-Davis.

They hope with more donations, sponsorships, and events like EnviroMedia’s, the organization can find new ways to tackle the lack of affordable housing in the city.

Another issue facing Austin Habitat is the increase in costs to build a home. It used to be about $65,000 to get each home completed, but now it is upwards of $90,000.

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