Travis County to pursue new housing market study


Travis County is looking to launch a housing market study to identify areas of need

County staff hopes to partner with the city of Austin and housing-related groups

The total cost is not yet known but could be up to $120,000 among entities other than the city of Austin

Travis County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to start discussions with the city of Austin, the Housing Authority of Travis County and the Travis County Housing Finance Corporation about launching a joint housing market study.

The study would provide data on the housing stock in Travis County and identify market gaps in affordability, unit type and household size, staff said Tuesday. It will also include projections of future housing growth and demographics.

“I think we’re all seeking the same type of end goal,” said Christy Moffett, the county’s community development block grant planning manager, whose office would spearhead the project. “We really want to understand what our production goals should be over the next five to 10 years.”

The city of Austin did a similar study in 2014 that informed the strategic housing plan it launched last April that called for building an additional 135,000 housing units in the city by 2025.

ALSO READ: 3 Austin City Council members form affordable housing voting bloc

“I know that it feels kind of maybe an exercise in futility doing these studies and stuff, but what we’re trying to do is create a road map for where we all need to go in the county to try to address (affordable housing),” Moffett said.

County staff said Tuesday that they were still figuring out what the total cost of the project would be. Staff recommended Travis County contribute up to $80,000, the housing authority up to $25,000 and the housing corporation up to $15,000.

Funds would go toward hiring a consultant to do the data collection and analysis. The completion goal for the project would be March 2019.

As the Austin area has grown, housing demand — and along with it median home prices — has skyrocketed, while wages have not kept pace.

RELATED: Home values keep on climbing in Travis County

Thirty-four percent of Travis County residents are cost-burdened, meaning they spend more than 30 percent of their total income on housing, according to the Community Advancement Network dashboard report.

County data this year showed that both the median taxable and median market values for Travis County homes were up by more than 9 percent in 2017. Experts have said that part of the problem stems from a lack of inventory in the most in-demand price range: about $200,000 to $300,000.

The housing authority will discuss whether to join the project at its next meeting May 4, and the other entities are set to start discussing it soon, Moffett said.

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