On Thursday, September 7, Austin City Council will meet to discuss potential amendments to the city’s proposed budget.

Two proposed amendments would provide funding for the City of Austin to help develop the Affordable Housing Solutions App: an Austin-born application with the goal of allowing residents to search for available affordable housing units based on their family’s needs, including proximity to schools, work, and transportation options.

Please reach out to your Council Member and ask them to support Concept Menu Items E-36 and E-37. Not sure who your Council Member is? Visit here and scroll down to “District Lookup.”

The final votes on the budget will take place on September 11, 12, and 13 — but Council needs to hear from you immediately. Thursday’s discussion will help to determine the fate of Items E-36 and E-37.

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Got questions? Of course you do. More information is below:

Who is proposing the budget amendments?

Concept Menu Items E-36 and E-37 are sponsored by Council Members Greg Casar, Alison Alter, and Kathie Tovo.

What is the problem being addressed?

For an Austin family seeking affordable housing, there is no up-to-date list of currently available locations that best meet their needs. As a result, Austinites are often forced to turn to cold-calling apartments in hopes of finding an affordable unit that is available for rent and accepts rent assistance. This challenge is made even more severe when a family receives an affordable housing voucher, as they have 60 days to use it or potentially lose it.

What is the solution?

Austin’s Affordable Housing Solutions App: an Austin-born application with the goal of allowing residents to search for available affordable housing units based on their family’s needs, including proximity to schools, work, and transportation options.

This project comes from the Housing Committee of Austin CityUP, a smart city consortium of companies, organizations, and individuals who collaborate on activities that advance Austin through digital technologies, data collection, analytics, and modeling. Austin Tech Alliance is a member of Austin CityUP.

Austin CityUP partners with the City of Austin on a continual basis, helping to help define our community’s smart city civic priorities and develop tech-forward means of addressing community challenges.

What funding is being requested?

E-36: $25,000

  • This funding will cover initial design workshops and data standards, including analyses of how to make this tool as simple as possible to use for everybody and a review of data sources, search tool features, and distribution methods.

E-37: $100,000

  • This funding represents an initial capital investment beginning the actual development of Austin’s Affordable Housing Solutions App.

Has Council weighed in on this previously?

Yes. With Austin CityUP, the City of Austin’s Neighborhood Housing and Community Development department and the Housing Authority of the City of Austin are currently creating a data hub of all apartment complexes with affordable units in Austin. Council passed Resolution No. 20170803–058 directing the City Manager to continue her work on creating a database of subsidized and unsubsidized affordable housing developments within the Austin city limits.

Has the press written anything about this?

Yes! The Austin Monitor covered the affordable housing app last month.