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.
The focus on affordability, part of this coming year’s change agenda, must take a comprehensive approach. We can make our city more affordable only in two ways: reduce the cost of living (like with housing as just discussed) or help people make more money, and we’re going to do the latter, too.