City distributing Project Connect funds for anti-displacement efforts

The City of Austin has distributed a round of funding that will go toward efforts to prevent the displacement of renters and homeowners due to Project Connect.

The $7.1 billion project includes plans for new light rail lines and expanded bus routes.

Voters approved Project Connect in 2020. Of the $7.1 billion, $300 million was dedicated to anti-displacement funding.

In May, the final plan for the Project Connect light rail system was revealed.

According to the City, $20 million of the $300 million has been allocated to help communities at risk of displacement due to affordability. As of September, $16 million has been awarded to 12 ‘Community Initiated Solutions’ organizations that will focus on the needs of vulnerable neighborhoods.

"We're really excited because the organizations that will be funded, they're approaching this from a wide perspective, understanding the various ways that people often lose their family properties and their homes, even if they are renters," said Nefertitti Jackmon, community displacement prevention officer.


The money will be used to address 'indirect displacement pressures.'

"Because people know the lines are coming in, the area becomes more popular or more desirable, causing rents to go up, things like that," said Jackmon. "This is what these solutions and these funds will be used for, whether it's with increased rents…or helping homeowners to be prepared with getting clear titles so that if their property values rise, they can make informed decisions about, ‘Do we want to keep our property? Do we want to sell our property?’"

Some of the organizations take an even broader approach, for example, by helping people find work.

"Another good solution is how do we build a family's or a household's overall income so that they can have greater economic mobility to make choices in terms of if they want to leave?" said Jackmon.

An interactive map on the City’s website breaks down the data for those living within one mile of an existing or planned Project Connect station or line.

According to the data, 313,000 people across 139,000 housing units live within one mile of Project Connect. 67% are considered low-income, and 55% are renting.

Addresses were placed in different categories based on criteria: vulnerable, active displacement risk and chronic displacement risk.

The community is invited to learn more about programs and eligibility at an upcoming event on Oct. 14 at the Conley-Guerrero Senior Activity Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"This is an opportunity for families to make informed decisions or to be able to withstand the economic challenges that might come with improved and increased property values in the area," said Jackmon.