Affordable housing for teachers, staff considered at existing Austin ISD facilities

Austin ISD said it's looking to use existing facilities as affordable housing for its teachers and staff. One of the sites is the Coy Facility in East Austin.

Teachers are crucial to a community, but many Austin ISD teachers and staff can't afford to live in the communities they serve.

"What happens if a teacher can’t live here, they’re going to move to a surrounding county for example and at some point they’re going to say why am I spending so much money on gas, why am I driving all that way in, I’ll just get a job out here where I got my house," HousingWorks Austin Executive Director Nora Linares-Moeller said.

With the median home price in Austin soaring above $650,000, many families are finding themselves priced out.

"We are seeing a big shift and our big issue is trying to keep people here," Linares-Moeller said.

Austin ISD is considering using the Coy site in East Austin to build affordable housing for fixed income workers like bus drivers, custodians, food service workers, teachers, and more. The district presented 5 different options to get the community's input. 

They include anywhere from about 250 units with more park space to about 635 units with less park or green space. All include a variety of studio apartments, 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom, and 3-bedroom units. 

East Austin resident Vincent Tovar said the community pushed for this in 2016 and it's long overdue.

"The need, the overwhelming need for this community and our community is housing. It’s not greenspace," Tovar said.

Some of the plans keep the Coy Center with the Alternative Learning Center and Library Media Center, another plan is to build a new facility, and a couple other plans include getting rid of the facility altogether. Residents said they want to keep it and build around it.

"To just completely eliminate it could just be decimating the history of that site, so I think having just a little bit of it would be good," Tovar said.

Others said the more housing, the better. 

Austin ISD is still looking for more community feedback. The next community conversation on this property is in person at the Coy Facility on September 28 at 6:00 p.m. 

The Director of Real Estate for Austin ISD said construction could start as early as 2024 once feedback is received and a development partner is picked.