June is National Homeownership Month, but the American dream of homeownership is increasingly out of reach for Austinites. According to the Austin Board of Realtors, the median home price in the City of Austin was $355,000 last month. Considering the median family income for a four-person household in the City of Austin is $77,800, what are the options for these families?
Depending on a variety of factors, such as interest rate, credit, and outstanding debt, Austin’s median income family can afford a home purchase price of no more than $250,000. Unfortunately, the universe of homes in this price range are few and far between. As a result, families are moving farther away from Austin, with dire consequences for commute times, transportation costs, and our local and regional transportation infrastructure.
We are fortunate in the city of Austin to have some innovative opportunities for moderate-income, first-time homebuyers. Local nonprofit partners are offering affordable homeownership through creative strategies. Guadalupe Neighborhood Development Corporation is developing affordable homeownership at the Guadalupe Saldana Subdivision utilizing a Community Land Trust. Austin Habitat for Humanity’s HomeBase has partnered with Momark Development on the Westgate Grove subdivision, which includes housing for households at or below 80% MFI. Both of these developments have used the city’s general obligation bonds (leveraged with additional public and private dollars) to ensure long-term affordability.
This month, we feature the Liao family who recently purchased their first home through the Mueller Development’s affordable housing program. Mueller is the realization of the broader community’s vision for a mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood in the heart of Austin. Twenty-five percent of the housing in Mueller (more than 1,400 rental and for-sale units when the development is fully built out) will be affordable. The affordable housing products are indistinguishable from the market rate products. Mueller’s shared appreciation model ensures a fair but limited return for homeowners. The Mueller Foundation ensures that the affordability is secured for the long term. It’s an innovative, nationally-recognized program.
When affordable housing is woven seamlessly into neighborhoods, the whole community wins. Neighborhoods that include a range of housing types – rental and ownership – for a range of households are both resilient and sustainable.
– Mandy De Mayo
Executive Director, HousingWorks Austin