We also need to harness the power of the current real estate market to prevent the loss of affordable, middle-income apartments. Last year, I said we were going to join in the work being done in the community to create a strike fund to buy and preserve and protect some of our existing workforce housing before we lost it to gentrification. This year, I gathered a group of real estate investment and housing experts to create a socially responsible investment fund to preserve that portion of the workforce housing in our city. This was to be done as a market driven investment — neither subsidized nor philanthropic and not at taxpayer cost.
Tonight, I’m happy to announce for the first time that the group we convened has created a non-profit called the “Affordable Central Texas.” This will be the operating company that will administer the private investment fund to be called the “Austin Affordable Fund” that will purchase and preserve middle-income housing.
We are working with investors now, and before the end of the year, I fully expect that the Austin Affordable Fund will make its first purchase and begin to protect long-term affordability in Austin.
Helping people make more money is all about jobs and job training. To reduce income inequality and to create opportunities more broadly and equitably so more people can afford to stay in Austin, we need to restructure how we attract new jobs and new job training opportunities to Austin. One element of this effort will be to fundamentally reform our economic incentive programs in Austin.
We’ve got tens of thousands of people in this city living in zip codes that weren’t zoned for opportunity. Most of those zip codes are located in the Eastern Crescent of our city. This is one reason why America’s favorite boomtown ends up as the most economically segregated city in the country.
These people – our neighbors, fellow Austinites – need middle-income jobs, and the training and experience needed to qualify for those jobs. I want to target economic incentives Right. At. Them.
Mayor Pro Tem, Council Members, City Manager, Distinguished Guests, my fellow Austinites.
There is something magical about this place, our people, our culture and our spirit.
We know that diversity makes us stronger, that taking care of our environment is to our credit and not to our detriment. We’re laid back and focused. We’re willing to fail so long as we learn quickly and keep trying. The character of Austin is important to us for a reason. It’s about a quality of life where we don’t thrive despite our weird, diverse, and inclusive values – we thrive because of them!
The State of our City is as wonderfully unique and special as it has ever been.
But that’s not quite the story we always tell ourselves about Austin, is it? There is something else we often tell ourselves about this city, and we say it as if it were a knowing, painful joke:
The best time to be in Austin, we say, was five years before you got here.
New multi-year grant of up to $1.5 million will be awarded to help Austin tackle homelessness
Today, Bloomberg Philanthropies recognized the city of Austin as a new member of its Innovation Team program, which helps City Halls drive bold innovation, change culture, and tackle big problems to deliver better results for residents. Austin was selected from a pool of municipalities with a demonstrated commitment to designing and delivering bold solutions to solve homelessness. Other cities selected for the global program include Be’er Sheva, Israel; Toronto, Canada, and Anchorage, AK; Austin, TX; Baltimore, MD; Detroit, MI; and Durham; NC in the United States.
Currently in the third round of funding, the program will allow Mayor Steve Adler and the City Council to fund an in-house innovation team, or “i-team”, to pioneer new approaches on homelessness.
“This grant will help us tackle problems in new ways that reflect who we are in Austin, and I’m excited to see what can come from this,” said Mayor Adler. “When we effectively ended veteran homelessness, we learned how effective new partnerships between the business community, philanthropists and non-profits could be. Bloomberg’s grant will allow our Innovation Office to experiment with new ways to house the homeless.” Continue reading →