Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Austin Homeowners vs Renters

Austin Homeowners and Renters are extremely different, KUT reports.

55% of Austinites rent and 45% own their home.  That renter percentage is very high.  Nationally about 46% of Americans rent.  Homeowners in Austin have an annual income of $86,000 while renters make less than $39,000.  While less than half of Austin’s population is non-Hispanic white, they account for 67% of the homeowners in town.

Austin renters tend to be younger, are more likely to be people of color, and are more likely to be new to town.  53% of renters are under 35, compared to 14% of homeowners, and 40% of renters are Hispanic, Latino or African American, compared to 26% of homeowners.  64% of renters moved to Austin since 2010, compared to just 15% of homeowners.  

Two segments of Austin’s renting population are growing fastest:  those on the low-end and on the high-end.  However, most of the apartment inventory being added tends to be on the high end.  This leaves low-income renters with fewer options for homes, and with less ability to ask landlords to make repairs or give them concessions.

While there are 6,000 new apartments currently under construction in central Austin, most of that is destined to be luxury and out of reach of low-income renters.  

Much of the problem with adding new stock to Austin’s apartment supply is the fact that neighbors often protest projects that increase density in their neighborhood and affordable housing projects.  Developers frequently face an uphill battle in trying to get new projects approved.  Homeowners regularly turn out in droves when a new apartment building is before city council, with renters seldom represented.

Renters at the low end of the income spectrum often find themselves suffering from a cost burden.  In other words, they pay more than 30 percent of their income for rent and utilities.  This makes it difficult for them to save and makes life a daily struggle to survive.  

There are many policies that the city could adopt to help make it easier to build more housing stock for renters.  Currently, the Code Next process is hoping to come up with changes to Austin’s land use code to make it easier to build new projects.  Recently the Council’s Housing and Development Committee voted to expand density bonuses, which allow developers to build more units or taller buildings than would normally be allowed in exchange for adding some units to be rented at below market rates.  

Density bonuses have already been used in the East Riverside and West Campus areas, adding 1,600 affordable apartments.  However the way density bonuses are implemented can be confusing, so the committee wants to simplify and streamline the regulations around them.

A big way renters can get more of a voice in city matters is to show up.  Renters can go to city council meetings (schedule), contact council members, and sign up to speak at city council meetings to tell them that the concerns of renters matter too.  

An experienced apartment locator can help you find an apartment that fits in your budget.  We will have you fill out an application and be sure you are pre-approved before you ever leave the office.  That way you don’t have to worry about paying application fees to an apartment just to be turned down.  Our services are absolutely free and we know up-to-the-minute vacancies and move in specials in Austin and the surrounding area.  Give Austin Apartment Specialists a call today at 512-318-2504.

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