Austin Affordable Housing Impact Statement

What is the goal of the ordinance?

Like many cities, the City of Austin is committed to a goal of expanding the volume of affordable housing, particularly affordable rentals. Analysis from the city's housing authority sets the current rental gap at 50,000 units. (Community stakeholders suggest a housing gap closer to 100,000 units.) 

According to a 2015 report from the Real Estate Council of Austin, "the average rent in the Austin area increased 50 percent from 2004 to 2013 while median incomes rose by only 9 percent." Further, "from 2000 to 2012, the Austin region grew by nearly 570,000 people but during this time the number of housing units within the city limits increased by only 84,000." 

The intent of the affordable housing impact statement, much like an environmental impact statement, is to ensure that developers and government officials consider how new development may impact the availability of housing for low-income individuals and families. 

How is the measure implemented? 

In Austin, the ordinance (adopted in 2007) is managed by the city's neighborhood housing and community development department. The measure states that an affordable housing impact statement (AHIS) is required in cases where "any ordinance, rule or process impacts housing affordability." Further, the AHIS must be prepared before initiation of external stakeholder discussion. Sections are identified which require a check box indicating a "decrease," "increase," or "no impact" including proposed code amendments, land use and zoning, and regulatory barriers to housing development. 

Which other cities have made use of this concept? 

The City of San Diego has an older measure dating back to 1999 in the form of a memorandum within planning department operations. This guidance was updated in 2002. Responsibility in San Diego is held by the city's departments for planning and development services. The measure is broad in San Diego covering impacts on overall housing supply and demand as well as affordability. 
As of this writing, the City of Atlanta has adopted an affordable housing impact statement measure and the Cities of New Orleans and Pittsburgh are considering similar ordinances. 

NLC Contact
City Solutions and Applied Research
202-626-3163 Last updated January 2016

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