The original article can be found here.

Monday, April 6, 2020 by Chad Swiatecki

The nonprofit group Affordable Central Texas is looking to raise $125,000 to assist residents in the three apartment complexes owned by the Austin Housing Conservancy Fund, which was created to preserve workforce housing in the Austin area.


The ACT Together Fund will be available to approximately 750 of the 1,200 residents in those three complexes based on income data and need due to job losses and other impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.


David Steinwedell, CEO of Affordable Central Texas, said the goal is to help residents from falling behind on rent and other expenses while waiting for local, state and federal relief programs to take shape. He said the $125,000 will likely allow for two or three months of assistance.


“If someone is having problems paying rent then they’re probably also needing help paying their utility bill, car payment, and there’s a variety of things that are going to be a challenge for them,” he said. “We formed the program to raise capital through the nonprofit and use that to meet the variety of needs that our residents might have.”


Affordable Central Texas was formed with the mission of acquiring apartment communities where rents would be maintained at a level affordable to those earning approximately 80 percent of the Austin area’s median family income. That middle ground between subsidized affordable housing for lower incomes and high-end properties is seen as endangered as Austin’s real estate market continues to grow and the demand for housing pushes rents higher.


Steinwedell said he supports the city’s recent move to stop eviction proceedings for 60 days, but cautioned that property owners would quickly become unable to make utility payments or pay maintenance staff for a complex if there were widespread rent forgiveness or a rent strike by residents.


“If we don’t receive rent then we can’t pay our mortgage or pay our utility bills or pay the five to seven staff we have at each one of our properties. So when you do one thing it has a waterfall effect relative to providing a stable home for all of our residents,” he said. “This is affecting everybody and I think there’s a realization that we’ve got to all be creative in terms of how do you work with people. It could be if there’s someone who’s lost their job and hasn’t gotten their unemployment going yet or the extra $600 per week, then let’s defer the rent until those payments come in and get you on a payment plan. There’s a whole variety of things people are willing to do in this environment because they know everyone is being affected in one way or another.”


While Affordable Central Texas is looking to have thousands of units under ownership in the coming years, the pandemic has already put a stop to one acquisition because the group can’t perform a full site visit to do proper diligence. Steinwedell said two other deals in the preliminary stages have been put on hold, and that financial institutions have put a stop to most lending and investments because of uncertainty in the markets overall.


The news that there may be assistance for Affordable Central Texas residents was welcome to Craig Edgley, a high school math teacher at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired who lives at the Bridge at Terracina complex.


Edgley is still teaching students online, but his wife’s job at a daycare center has been put on pause over the last few weeks, meaning less income for them and their two children. He wasn’t aware whether he’d qualify for assistance from the fund, but praised the intention of Affordable Central Texas to keep housing available in the city for teachers and other middle-income workers.


“Once it got bought out they let us know they were making changes and I’m loving it because they’re going in the direction of being more for the people than the profit,” he said. “I definitely think that landlords should be more understanding of the people. Because if you’re good to the people when they’re down then we’re going to be good to you when things are good and we’ll get our rent paid on time. Especially when we’re going through this crazy epidemic no one was expecting, they need to be more accepting with late rent or missing rent.”

Photo courtesy of Google Maps.

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The full article can be found here.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The nonprofit organization Affordable Central Texas announced Wednesday that Texas Capital Bank will be the first bank to fully invest in the Austin Conservancy Fund, according to a press release from the office of Mayor Steve Adler.

The Austin Conservancy Fund is an open-ended social impact equity fund aimed at making sure properties meet the Community Reinvestment Act requirements. By purchasing multifamily properties, the fund will theoretically maintain affordable rental rates in the city. Its goal is to preserve workforce housing apartment buildings, prevent them from being gentrified and protect existing tenants so they won’t be displaced.

“The magic of Austin is in its people. Keeping the city affordable for teachers, artists, first responders, restaurant workers and other working people is crucial to preserving what everyone loves about being here,” said Mayor Adler. “With this investment, Texas Capital Bank has shown leadership that we hope will inspire others to support the Austin Housing Conservancy Fund and its work to preserve affordable housing for the moderate-income workers who make this city special.”

The ACF launched in 2018 with the purchase of three multifamily properties totaling 792 units and 1,200 residents, per Mayor Adler’s press release. The 10-year goal of the fund is to preserve over 10,000 rental properties for 15,000 Austin residents.

“Today we are proud to announce we are growing by adding Affordable Central Texas and the Austin Affordable Housing Conservancy Fund to our family of community partners,” said Kerry Hall, Executive Director of Regional Banking for Texas Capital Bank. “In alignment with the City of Austin and the Austin Affordable Housing Conservancy Fund’s strategic goal of ensuring that people who work in Austin can live in Austin, Texas Capital Bank is proud to announce a $500,000 institutional investment into the Affordable Housing Conservancy Fund.”

While Texas Capital Bank is the first bank to become an investor in the ACF, in September Wells Fargo and the U.S Conference of Mayors made a $150,000 donation to the fund.

Thank you for considering a donation to Affordable Central Texas, the non-profit sponsor and investment manager of the Austin Housing Conservancy Fund. Your donation will help support the sustainability of Affordable Central Texas, ensuring that affordable housing is preserved for our community’s teachers, first responders, medical professionals and others vital to Austin’s livability and success.

The original report can be found here.

Whether you think Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and Airbnb have gotten too much credit or not enough for recent commitments that exceed $2 billion combined for affordable housing and homelessness efforts, mainly in Seattle and San Francisco, their pledges are only the splashiest in what looks like a rising tide of business leadership on the housing affordability crisis.

In Charlotte a “wave of donations” from civic leaders has eclipsed a $50 million goal and “means that more than $250 million in public and private money has been committed since 2018,” the Charlotte Observer reported earlier this month. The Washington Housing Initiative has raised more than $90 million for a loan fund and related community services in the District of Columbia.

The Austin Housing Conservancy has secured commitments from about 25 investors to acquire and preserve the affordability of apartments that are home to more than 1,200 people. The Twin Cities Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing Impact Fund has raised $32.5 million so far, mostly from Minnesota companies and foundations (and Minnesota Housing).

It’s not just financial institutions. A sandwich shop donated land to the Charlotte effort.

Yesterday in Indianapolis — where local leaders recently launched a $15 million fund to preserve affordable housing along transit lines, following the success of similar vehicles in Denver and the Puget Sound and San Francisco Bay areas — Indiana HCDA announced plans to co-invest in workforce housing initiatives with an industrial machine supplier, a medical device manufacturer, a nonprofit health system, and a resort in four different communities in the state.

“By participating in this new program, these organizations further prove how important housing is in attracting and retaining talent,” said Indiana Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch (R).

Affordable housing is a tough business for anyone — it was reported this week that a once-promising Dallas initiative may have stalled — and nobody should expect that the private sector alone can solve a problem as massive as the affordability crisis. But business leaders appear ready to do more, if approached the right way.

Chicago executive and civic leader King Harris, chairman of Illinois HDA, offered this advice from experience in a Brookings Institution essay last year:

“[W]hen you are able to target leaders who are receptive to the conversation, and you present them with information that resonates with their experience and the needs of their workforce, you may find yourself with some new, strong allies … You never know which CEO is going to be your region’s next housing advocate!”

There’s evidence that business leaders are feeling greater pressure to take on what they see as society’s most pressing problems.

It’s up to us to make sure housing is on their list.

Stockton Williams | Executive Director

The original article can be found here.


In 2017, the City of Austin bought 1.3 acres of land at the corner of Doris Drive and Hathaway Drive from AISD. The year prior, the district had placed 10 different properties on the market.

The city ended up buying two of those properties for sale — the Doris Drive land and about eight acres on Tannehill Lane. They used the bond voters approved in 2013.

“We looked for properties [that were close] to services, amenities, transportation and schools,” said Mandy DeMayo, Community Development Administrator at the city’s Neighborhood Housing Community Development Department.

She said the Doris Drive tract is across the street from Burnet Middle School, and the Tannehill Lane land in east Austin is near Norman Elementary School.

According to DeMayo, the project will include single-family homes and duplexes. “We are planning eight units total of affordable housing,” she said. “Four will be rental housing. Affordable to folks at or below 50 percent median family income. Four will be single-family ownership opportunities for families at or below 80 percent median family income.”

Austin’s median family income for a family of four is $95,900.

DeMayo said the goal is to have the homes on Doris Drive be ready for move in by Fall 2020. “It’s a pretty ambitious timeline, but we feel like it’s achievable. We understand the need for affordable housing is obviously huge, and we want to do our part to help meet that need,” she said.

Other projects in the works

The city also owns properties on East 10th Street and Funston Street. DeMayo said an accessory dwelling unit is under construction on E. 10th, and the plan is to build a three-bedroom home on Funston Street.

City-owned land that will be used for affordable housing.

They also have plans to collect proposals from developers, so three other lots can be developed.

Those include:

  • Tannehill Lane (the land mentioned above, purchased from AISD)
  • Tillery/Pecan Grove
  • Gardner Road/Levander Loop
City-owned land that will be used for affordable housing.

DeMayo said projects — both big and small — help make a difference.

“Every unit counts,” she said.

The original article can be found here.

Apple campus, Statesman site redevelopment mentioned as major projects to mind

Austin is once again the top market in the country for real estate investment looking ahead to 2020, according to a national study released Sept. 19 by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Urban Land Institute.

The Texas capital climbed up from No. 6 on the last Emerging Trends in Real Estate study. For 2018 it ranked No. 2 and for 2017 it ranked No. 1.

“Development is booming, and the landscape is studded with impactful projects,” the new report states about the Texas capital.

The Austin projects named in the report, which is based on a survey of more than 1,500 real estate professional across the world, are Apple Inc.’s forthcoming $1 billion campus in Williamson County, the transit-oriented development proposed for the Austin American-Statesman site, the new Dell Medical School and a major expansion of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

“Capital is abundantly directed toward Austin — so much so that some locals wonder about the underwriting assumptions of outside investors,” the report states. “Transaction activity in Austin is above what you would expect from a market of its size, and 2019’s early results are above the three-year historical average.”

In 2020, Austin will be a solid “buy” market for industrial, office and multifamily properties, according to the 41st annual study from New York-based accounting firm PwC and the nonprofit Urban Land Institute.

Austin first appeared in the top 10 of the study about a decade ago, along with larger, mostly coastal cities such as New York City, Washington D.C. and San Francisco, said Mitch Roschelle, partner at PwC and co-publisher of the report. Initially, people thought Austin’s appearance was a mistake, he said.

“It’s not an aberration at all,” Roschelle said, after studying Austin for years. “[Austin] has almost become a force of nature.”

Austin’s explosive population and employment growth, as well as the continuing diversification of the economy, keep the capital city near the top of the list, Roschelle said.

“The population of Austin is growing at three times the population growth rate of the U.S.,” he said. The MSA is growing by about 45,000 people a year, Roschelle added, citing Census Bureau data. The latest federal numbers, released in April, found that the Austin metro population grew by 53,086 from 2017 to 2018, or about 145 a day.

There’s so much momentum and potential for economic expansion in Austin that if the overall U.S. economy were to slow, the city would get its first opportunity to prove its resilience, Roschelle said. Historically Austin has fared better than many other cities during recessions, although now the Texas capital is more connected to the global economy than ever before.

On the diversification of Austin’s economy, the city also scores highly. It is adding million-dollar businesses faster than any other major metro in the country, according to a recent report from LendingTree. From 2014 to 2016, the number of businesses in the Austin area with revenue of at least $1 million climbed 15.1%.

Paulette Gibbins, executive director of ULI in Austin, agreed that the economy is diversifying. Army Futures Command’s entrance into the city last year “represents quite a diversification of job opportunities within Austin,” she said.

“They come here, and then they also bring in other companies interested in doing work with them,” Gibbins said. “On top of that, Austin has really grown in the bio-tech sector (with the innovation district) and medical school.”

Persistent challenges in Austin are traffic and rising housing costs, according to the report.

Gibbins said Austin is at a “tipping point” as it’s working to update its land use codeimprove public transit and address rising housing costs.

As Austin grows vertically — real estate insiders joke the tower crane is the unofficial city bird — it is also growing horizontally, Roschelle said.

“Suburbs start getting created where there weren’t suburbs before,” he said. “People start commuting from longer distances where the land and homes become more affordable. That’s what tends to happen.”

That’s already happening in the Austin area as median home prices in the city have reached record highs, according to recent data from the Austin Board of Realtors. As a result, thousands of new homes are being built in nearby cities like Pflugerville, Buda, Kyle and Leander.

10 markets to watch in 2020 from Emerging Trends in Real Estate report

1. Austin

2. Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

3. Nashville

4. Charlotte

5. Boston

6. Dallas/Fort Worth

7. Orlando

8. Atlanta

9. Los Angeles

10. Seattle