AUSTIN, Texas - The City of Austin is set to vote on phase one of HOME, Home Options for Middle-Income Empowerment, on Thursday, Dec. 7.
It is a series of initiatives put forward to address Austin's critical housing shortage put forward by council member Leslie Pool.
"Phase one will be considered on Thursday and allows up to three homes on a property, including tiny homes, which are the most affordable way to add a home to your lot," said Pool.
Pool hosted a press conference Tuesday morning to express her excitement about the upcoming vote alongside those who support the HOME initiative.
"We are so close to putting Austin on the path towards organic affordability. HOME simplifies the rules and places trust in people by allowing them to build to their needs. This will lead to gradual affordability improvements that are tied to the will of the community," said Chito Vela, an Austin City Council Member.
As the press conference was happening, around a dozen protesters held up signs in opposition of the HOME initiative as it stands right now.
"Be intentional. Be thought out. This needs to be postponed. It needs to be ironed out a little bit more. The way that HOME is now, you leave and everything gets a chance and the individuals," said Alexandria Anderson, who is against HOME.
Those who stood in opposition claim HOME has no requirements for affordability, which makes it a developer’s dream where those developers could end up selling it to the highest bidder and not the intended middle class. They are also worried about what may happen to low-income homeowners.
"HOME is only going to accelerate the homelessness crisis and the housing affordability crisis. It has no requirements for affordability. Not only that, when you massively increase the potential profits that developers can make, it incentivizes them to take over and help homes that families have been trying to hold on to for generations. They'll have to sell because their property taxes are increasing," said Solveij, who is against HOME.
- Austin residents speak out against HOME initiative
- Austinites, both for and against HOME Initiative, speak out on proposal
Vela says a resolution will be put forward on Dec. 14 that could provide financial assistance to low and middle income homeowners who want to add additional residential units to their homes.
He says HOME is a necessary step towards making Austin more affordable and fixing existing city codes.
"Displacement is happening because our existing code bans the type of housing that middle-income families can afford. When the price of land is high in a growing city, we have to allow people to build their homes on less land," said Vela.
HOME Phase 1 will be put to a vote on Thursday.