Austin is known for many things, from our eclectic coffee shops to our live music draw, and ongoing debates about which joints serve the best breakfast tacos. But there’s another honor we’re rapidly earning, one coupled with our label as among the fastest growing cities in the nation. What is it, you ask? Take a closer look at the changing social fabric in East Austin and you might just catch a glimpse.
The truth is we face a grim reality in terms of housing. Gentrification has become a dirty word, and the number of residents fleeing for refuge to outlying ZIP codes continues to surge. The lack of affordable housing is a threat and a burden to the human capital that is Austin’s greatest asset. Rapid, unplanned changes to the diverse culture that’s been a magnet for the creative class risk cannibalizing what’s made Austin a powerhouse over the past 10 to 20 years.
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Vitemb and Heritage are graduate students at the School of Social Work at the University of Texas.