Protesters rally against phase two of HOME initiative

Protesters rallied outside Austin City Hall on Tuesday, slamming a plan to reduce lot sizes in Austin, known as the HOME Initiative.

Inside, Austin City Council held a work session, trying to fine tune the controversial plan to combat soaring home prices.

"The minimum lot size reduction came out of a recommendation from our anti-displacement task force, so it is a recommended strategy to help Austinities age in place," said District 2 Council Member Vanessa Fuentes.

In December, Council passed HOME Phase 1, allowing up to three homes to be built on a single property. Phase 2, up for a vote on Thursday, would add to this, by reducing the minimum lot size to a third of what it is now. That means some larger existing lots could be subdivided to fit up to six homes or more.

But opponents argue the plan will actually make housing less affordable, and worry displacement of longtime residents is all but guaranteed.


"You’re proposing the same thing your ancestors proposed in 1928," said NAACP Austin President Nelson Linder.

"Highway 35 was always our border wall. And now the next border wall will be 183," said PODER executive director Susana Almanza.

But some council members are seeking to prevent those unintended consequences. One proposed amendment to the initiative is to provide financial help to lower-income homeowners who are looking to build additional houses on their lots.

"The idea is to mitigate displacement in areas most affected by gentrification," said District 3 Council Member Jose Velasquez.