It is no secret that housing prices in Austin are through the roof. We are now one of the ten most expensive rental markets in the country. As many as 38,000 Austin area families cannot find affordable housing. Many are service industry workers, child care providers, construction workers or even public employees. They’re literally being priced out of town.
Last month, Austin City Council voted unanimously to put $65 million in affordable housing bonds on the November 5th ballot. These funds would be used in partnership with private and non-profit organizations to build thousands of attractive houses and apartments all over the city and renovate and repair existing houses to help seniors stay in their homes. The funding has significant leverage – project developers would use them to “match” many times their value in state, federal, private and philanthropic dollars.
This issue is especially poignant for LifeWorks for two reasons:
First, for the youth we serve – teenage parents, youth aging out of foster care, and young adults who have experienced cycles of homelessness – the challenge of finding and maintaining safe housing is particularly acute. Twenty-five percent of youth aging out of care experience homelessness within 6 months of leaving care, making them one of the most at-risk groups for homelessness. Without a safe place to live, these young adults cannot focus on the education, job training, or other services that would lead them to self-sufficiency. They are caught in a vicious cycle of crisis services, and their potential does not move forward.
Second, we are using the very last of the $55 million bond funding that Austin approved in 2006. In December of this year we will complete The Works at Pleasant Valley, a 45 unit apartment development on the campus of our Sooch Foundation Youth and Family Resource Center. We leveraged $600,000 in Bond funding for a $6,000,000 project that will serve the most economically vulnerable of Austin’s youth and families. Not only will they receive supportive services through LifeWorks, but The Works is next door to Austin Community College’s Eastview Campus, creating access to a wide range of educational and workforce training opportunities.
Local funding for Affordable Housing is absolutely necessary if we are going to build new housing, and to do so in the uniquely Austin fashion of innovation. LifeWorks is a proud part of Keep Austin Affordable a coalition of business, faith and community leaders calling for investment in affordable housing by putting city bonds back on the ballot in November 2013. Please see their website http://keepatxaffordable.org to learn more about how we can make headway on this critical issue.
Check out what YNN has to say about The Works and stay tuned for the grand opening later this Fall!!!