You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

City affordability includes support for assistance programs

Austin is one of the most socially conscious cities in America, and we have one of the fastest-growing economies in the nation. However, peer cities like Denver, San Antonio, San Francisco and Seattle all invest more in health and human services. We believe Austin has a unique opportunity to create something truly special — a city that continues to generate wealth and addresses poverty in a meaningful way.

One of our priorities as the One Voice Central Texas coalition is to help make Austin more affordable for people in poverty while also providing opportunities to thrive economically. To accomplish this, our current city council must commit to balancing housing affordability and the funding of critical services that impact our most vulnerable residents. We cannot have one without the other and continue to prosper as a city.

We appreciate this city council’s work to develop a comprehensive, tiered initiative that helps people at all socioeconomic levels — one that provides relief for homeowners and low-income households who are not homeowners alike. We also appreciate the strong commitment Mayor Steve Adler and other council members made during the June 4 council meeting to ensure next year’s 6 percent property tax cut does not negatively impact city-funded social services. We also support the council’s investment in the Renters Assistance Fund.

Nonetheless, the members of One Voice Central Texas are concerned about the long-term impact that the homestead exemption property tax cut could have on low-income families; especially since the council has formally expressed its intent to increase the homestead exemption to the full 20 percent over the next four years.

To offset any potential negative impact to low-income individuals, One Voice encourages the city council to truly address the affordability gap by supporting a 10 percent funding increase for Health and Human Services in fiscal year 2016. This would ensure that homeowner tax cuts do not come at the expense of struggling households that depend on services provided through this funding.

In the long term, One Voice also supports two additional actions:

  • The city’s annual budget process incorporates an annual increase to social services and workforce development that is equal to or greater than the increase in the Consumer Price Index and incrementally increases with the city’s population growth.
  • The city manager develops a plan to invest in additional funding for social service contracts and funding for the Health and Human Services Department over the next 3-5 years.


Study after study shows that investing in social services saves the community money in both the short term and long term by improving overall health, ensuring that the most vulnerable people have access to basic needs, and preparing the nation’s workforce.

One Voice believes the current council can demonstrate its leadership by identifying strategies to both implement tax cuts and remain committed to not cutting city-funded health and human services. Working to make Austin affordable for everyone while continuing investments in social services to help people out of poverty is the kind of comprehensive approach One Voice wholeheartedly supports.

There isn’t another city in America that could make progress in both arenas today like we can. We agree with Adler when he says he believes Austin is a “magical place.” Let’s come together to make sure it’s magical for all who call Austin home.

Marvin is the board chairman of One Voice Central Texas, which is a coalition of 85 nonprofit health and human service organizations.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Opinion

Herman: The Texas Railroad Commission and bathroom attendance
Herman: The Texas Railroad Commission and bathroom attendance

It was a Tuesday that careened between low rhetoric and high drama as the Texas House churned toward the unlikely intersection of energy industry regulation and who should go to which bathroom. The day’s highlight was the bill needed to keep the Texas Railroad Commission in business. Lurking in the background were amendments that would have set...
Freedom Caucus conservatives are today’s abolitionists

The House Freedom Caucusis taking flak, with many saying they are responsible for the failure to pass the American Health Care Act. With all other Republicans on board, the votes of the 29 Freedom Caucus members could have led to passing the legislation. But they refused to support it. Should they be chastised as obstructionists? Are they childish...
Letters to the editor: March 29, 2017
Letters to the editor: March 29, 2017

Re: March 20 commentary, “Wear: Uber and Lyft ride hail into the Legislature — again.” Regarding Uber and Lyft: Ben Wear may want to look up “overconfidence effect” — that is, the tendency for people to think they know more about a subject than they actually do. I don’t think you’ll find many who think...
Commentary: The creative working class are bringing American jobs back
Commentary: The creative working class are bringing American jobs back

Even though tech progress tends to grab more headlines, there’s another “Made in America” story to be told. There’s a harkening back to the days of craftsmanship — and there is a groundswell of interest and entrepreneurship surrounding skills and trades. Legions of people seek work that calls for the use of their hands...
Commentary: We can honor today’s women through common-sense policies
Commentary: We can honor today’s women through common-sense policies

My mother was smart, compassionate and unfailingly giving. Though I don’t believe I will ever be able to equal her in spirit, I am forever grateful for the lessons she gave me and my sisters, which I am now passing on to my daughter. She taught us the vital role we all play in improving the lives of the people we love and the communities we live...
More Stories