Frequently Asked Questions
The Austin Housing Conservancy is a unique and innovative solution to address Austin’s housing crisis through a collaboration between investors, nonprofit, and community partners. Its mission is to ensure the people who make Austin great can continue to call it home by preserving middle-income housing units for Austin’s workforce.
Middle-income housing units in Austin are an endangered species that are disappearing at a rapid rate. Approximately 45 percent of Austin’s renter-occupied housing was built in the 1970s and 1980s, which makes it prime for redevelopment. Between 2012-2014, Austin lost more than 7,000 affordable rental units to renovation and redevelopment. However, unlike other cities that have passed the tipping point, there is still time to make a real impact on housing affordability in Austin. If we don’t address this critical issue now, we will lose the diversity and creativity on which our city thrives.
We’ve all heard the stories of teachers like Jenny, musicians like Matt, and health care workers like Bethany being impacted by affordability. While affordable living may have been what brought these folks to Austin, many middle-income Austin residents have been forced to move outside of the city limits to the suburbs and commute in for work because the cost of living has risen so quickly. These people are the heartbeat of our city and they deserve the opportunity to call Austin home.
The Austin Housing Conservancy is addressing housing affordability by preserving a portion of existing housing stock from redevelopment before it is too late. The Austin Housing Conservancy (AHC) will target residents making between 60-120 percent of the median income in Austin, or $34,200 – $68,400 for an individual per 2017 HUD statistics. The AHC will purchase existing market affordable multifamily properties in geographically diverse, transit-rich areas throughout Austin. By securing private investment and offering a steady, low-risk financial return, the Austin Housing Conservancy will help to stabilize the loss rate of middle-income housing for Austin’s workforce that provides vital services to our communities: everyone from teachers, to baristas, to musicians, to bus drivers.
The housing segment in Austin with the fastest growing lack of affordability is the “missing middle.” Austin is well served by housing at market rates and programs exist to provide some subsidized housing for the low and very low income levels. What is missing is housing for workforce/middle income individuals and families. Without subsidy, it is not economical to build new housing for this sector. In addition, due to rising land values, existing multifamily communities are being demolished or upgraded to a rent level that is not affordable to this segment of the population. These units are disappearing fastest in Austin and causing families to move out of the city. The Austin Housing Conservancy is the first fund of its kind in the country to address the needs of middle income residents. By preserving multifamily communities as affordable to this income segment, Austin will benefit from the continued presence of musicians, nurses, and teachers who can live in our city and enjoy what makes Austin great.
The AHC model creates societal benefits for the people it serves, its investors, and the Austin community. Primarily, the AHC model helps address attainable housing for the middle-class workforce while providing consistent, low-risk returns for investors who want to make a social impact. Austin businesses and service providers benefit from a more stable, accessible workforce because people can live closer to work. Affordable housing allows individuals and families to settle into and develop deep roots in their communities, and living near transit reduces the need for multiple cars in a household. Safer, stable neighborhoods have also been shown to reduce stress levels and obesity rates. Austin taxpayers benefit because the AHC model alleviates stress on Austin’s transportation infrastructure as people spend less time commuting from the suburbs. Children not having to change schools often improves educational outcomes and increases graduation rates. Furthermore, keeping families in the Austin core uses existing schools throughout Austin to a greater capacity and reduces the need to build new schools in suburban areas. Because AHC will invest primarily in existing properties, the environmental impact is limited by avoiding demolition and new construction.
The Austin Housing Conservancy is overseen by a non-profit board of directors, comprised of nationally-recognized leaders in real estate and affordable housing. David Steinwedell, real estate expert and former Executive Director of the Urban Land Institute-Austin, is the CEO of the Affordable Central Texas. Affordable Central Texas is the sponsor and investment manager of the Austin Housing Conservancy.
The Austin Housing Conservancy is a private equity fund. Because it is a private market solution, AHC can scale with greater agility than government or traditional nonprofits. The AHC model allows for collaboration between investors, nonprofit, and community partners who seek to create sustainable impact to help solve a critical issue facing Austin and improve the future of our city.
An investment in the Austin Housing Conservancy is limited to accredited investors. Please contact your financial advisor and legal counsel to determine if an investment in AHC is suitable for you. Should you wish additional information after consultation with your advisors, please contact us.
Investing in the Austin Housing Conservancy provides qualified individuals, foundations and institutions with a stable value, low risk investment that is also beneficial to Austin and its residents by helping to preserve the cultural and employment fabric that makes Austin great. In the future, it is our hope that an investment vehicle will be developed to allow all citizens of Austin to invest in AHC.