Is austin becoming unaffordable?

Austin, Texas, has become one of the least affordable cities in the U.S. In the United States, in part due to high housing costs. This week, city legislators took an important step to help increase housing supply. The city council approved a resolution that reduces the size of the lot needed for housing.

The capital of Texas has long been an attractive place to call home. However, with the arrival of an average of 180 new residents a day, its popularity has created a housing crisis that is reshaping the city. A New York Times report revealed that Austin will become the least affordable metropolitan area in the country, outside of California. Even though almost everyone agrees that Austin needs a lot more housing, no one can agree on where it should be built. In theory, that question should be answered through a comprehensive code of territorial development, which would determine, through zoning categories, what can be built and where it can be built go.

Austin last updated its code in 1984, when the city was home to less than half of its residents. The city has tried to rewrite those regulations, but that effort failed earlier this year, after landlords responded with strong resistance and, eventually, with a lawsuit. In part, this is because homeowners in West and Central Austin have so effectively resisted anything other than single-family housing, that many real estate developers are no longer even trying to build in those areas. Property experts say Austin has the most expensive cost of living in Texas after analyzing annual municipal taxes on property, utilities and home prices compared to the average annual income per capita.

Edgar Sandoval, a Times reporter based in San Antonio, spoke to Texas Standard about why Austin has become so unaffordable and what city leaders hope to do about it. Now, according to a forecast prepared by Zillow, a real estate company that tracks affordability, the Austin metropolitan area is on track to become the least affordable major metropolitan region for homebuyers outside of California by the end of the year. The rapid rise in housing costs in Austin has forced low-income residents, especially people of color, to move out of their established neighborhoods or even leave the city, as developments aimed at newcomers replace homes and other familiar places. Matthew had grown up in Austin and divided his time between his mother's house in the city and his father's, in the rolling western countryside, where, over the years, he saw trees being cut down and the land covered with concrete to build housing estates luxurious.

With the University of Texas's flagship campus, gentle rolling hills and a vibrant music scene, Austin has long been an attractive place to call home. In June, city staff analyzed compatibility standards, which limit what can be built next to what, and discovered that Austin has some of the most restrictive rules in the country. Perhaps the transformation has been most keenly felt in East Austin and in the Montopolis neighborhood, an area 2.5 square miles southeast of downtown, where unobstructed views of the ever-expanding skyline have turned the historically black and Latino neighborhood into a sought-after community. Dianna Dean, who is black, grew up in East Austin, when the city was still segregated by Interstate 35, and earned a nursing degree from Austin Community College.

AUSTIN Over the past few years, in one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, the capital of Texas has changed at a breakneck pace, with churches being demolished, mobile home parks being demolished and places frequented by modern restaurants and luxury apartment complexes replaced. Mehra started out small, buying investment properties and renting them out to artists and others who otherwise couldn't afford to live in Austin. Imagine a medium-sized city moving to Austin and all these people trying to find a home to live in.

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