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Frequently Asked Questions

AHFC provides a number of construction programs:

  • ABR- To remove architectural barriers in the home
  • HRLP- To address code related deficiencies in the home

The process of providing weekly certified payrolls begins when construction begins. HUD’s Website for Davis Bacon and Labor Standards (DBLS) is https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/davis_bacon_and_labor_standards and the United States Department of Labor's page for Davis-Bacon and Related Acts (DBRA) is: https://www.dol.gov/whd/govcontracts/dbra.htm

There are a number of requirements an organization must meet to become certified as a CHDO.  The NHCD CHDO Certification Application spells out the requirements.

View the certification application.

All affordable housing programs have income eligibility requirements.  For ownership housing programs, a household’s total income cannot exceed 80% of the Austin Median Family Income (MFI). The income of all adult members of the household is included when calculating the total household income.  Certain items are included when calculating income and other items can be excluded from the income calculation.

Sources of Income Included in Calculating Household Income:  Some examples include wages from employment, net income from self-employment, monthly Social Security or Disability checks, food stamps, and child support.

Sources of Income Not Included in Calculating Household Income:  Income of children under age 18, college financial aid, income tax refunds, lump sum payments from such things as insurance claims, inheritance, and settlement payments arising from litigation.

Income from Assets Included in Calculating Household Income:  Income from assets is calculated if the value of the assets exceeds $5,000.  Examples of income from assets include interest, dividends, profit from royalties, and income from payments from an estate or trust fund.  [NOTE:  The value of the asset is not what is counted.  It is the income the asset produces that is counted toward total household income.]

CHDO stands for Community Housing Development Organization, a special federal designation for non-profit affordable housing organizations that meet certain qualifications.  Certain amounts of funding are reserved for CHDOs only, such as 15% of the City’s annual HOME allocation, eligibility for pre-development loans, and eligibility for operating expenses grants.

More information: www.hudexchange.info/programs/home/

The use of HOME funds is limited to housing activities for households at or below 80% of the Austin Median Family Income

Projects can be for acquisition, new construction, and/or rehabilitation of affordable housing. 

HOME funds can also be used to provide direct assistance to first-time homebuyers in the form of down payment and closing costs.  In addition, HOME funds can provide rental assistance for a period of time to very low-income persons who have exited a shelter and are working toward self-sufficiency with a case manager.

The process of providing weekly certified payrolls begins when construction begins. HUD’s Website for Davis Bacon and Labor Standards (DBLS) is https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/davis_bacon_and_labor_standards and the United States Department of Labor's page for Davis-Bacon and Related Acts (DBRA) is: https://www.dol.gov/whd/govcontracts/dbra.htm

Homestead Preservation Districts

A Homestead Preservation District, or HPD, is an area that qualifies as a special district under state law. Homestead Preservation Districts were created to promote the ability of municipalities to increase homeownership, provide affordable housing, and prevent involuntary loss of homesteads owned by low-income and moderate-income homeowners. Municipalities that designate Homestead Preservation Districts can provide bond financing, offer density bonuses, or provide other incentives to increase the supply of affordable housing and maintain the affordability of existing housing in those districts.

Texas Local Government Code Chapter 373A, Homestead Preservation Districts and Reinvestment Zones, provides the legislative authority for Homestead Preservation Districts.

Once an area is established as a Homestead Preservation District by City Ordinance, the Austin City Council may choose to re-invest in the area using dedicated revenue for the purpose of creating and preserving housing affordable to low and moderate-income homeowners and renters.

This law is different and separate from homestead tax exemptions.  See FAQ #xx for more information on how Homestead Preservation Districts and homestead tax exemptions differ.

Under state law, in order to designate Homestead Preservation Districts, a municipality must meet one of the following criteria:

  1. A municipality must have a population of more than 750,000 and be located in a uniform state service region with fewer than 550,000 occupied housing units, or
  2. A municipality must have a population of at least 1.18 million and be located predominantly in a county with a total area of less than 1,000 square miles with an adopted urban land bank demonstration program.

Currently, the city of Austin does not meet either of these criteria and is therefore unable to establish additional Homestead Preservation Districts at this time.

Once a municipality meets one of the above criteria, it may designate areas as Homestead Preservation Districts. To qualify as a Homestead Preservation District, an area must be composed of census tracts that form a spatially compact area. That area must meet all of the following criteria:

  1. The area must have fewer than 75,000 residents;
  2. The area must have an overall poverty rate at least two times the poverty rate for the entire municipality; and
  3. Each census tract in the area must have a median family income less than 80 percent of the median family income for the entire municipality.

Once a Homestead Preservation District is established, it can continue to be valid even if its population, poverty rate, or median family income change.

 

Once a Homestead Preservation District is established, the City Council can create dedicated revenue streams to fund affordable housing in the area. One of the ways City Council can create these revenue streams is through a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone within the Homestead Preservation District. Revenue generated through Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones is dedicated by state law to the development and preservation of affordable housing within the district.

A Homestead Preservation District Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone is a special taxing district within a Homestead Preservation District that utilizes Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to dedicate revenue to affordable housing in that district.

Tax Increment Financing works in the following way:  a tax increment is the difference between the amount of property tax revenue generated before TIF district (or reinvestment zone) designation and the amount of property tax revenue generated after designation. The TIF directs all or a portion of that tax increment funding back into affordable housing in the area. The TIF is not a new tax, it is merely a redirection of increased tax revenues back into the area, rather than into the City’s General Fund.

The state legislation governing Homestead Preservation Districts requires that all revenue from a Homestead Preservation District Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone must be reinvested in the area to support households at or below 70% of the median family income (MFI). There are additional requirements for lower income households as well:

1) At least half of the revenue must benefit households at or below 50% MFI

2) At least 25% of the revenue must benefit households at or below 30% MFI

Click here to view these median family income levels for the Austin-Round Rock metro area.

The City of Austin has one Homestead Preservation District called District A, which was established in 2007.   Click here to see more information about Homestead Preservation District A. Homestead Preservation District A also contains a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone. Click here to see the ordinance that created the zone.

Living in an area that has been designated a Homestead Preservation District will have no immediate impact on you as a resident. 

However, if City Council chooses to establish a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone in the district, a portion of your property tax increase will be dedicated to supporting households in the district whose incomes are at or below 70% of the median family income. The zone does NOT create a new tax; it simply dedicates a portion of your tax increase to be used on affordable housing in the district, rather than going into the City’s General Fund.

Permanent Supportive Housing

Permanent supportive housing is permanent, deeply affordable housing where services are offered to help homeless, disabled and low-income people live independently in the community. Tenants have leases or lease-like agreements; apartments are affordable; rent cannot exceed a third of tenants’ income; and property management and services are provided by not-for-profit organizations.  The concept behind supportive housing is simple: Tenants rent attractive, safe, affordable apartments and have access from on-site or off-site professionals to whatever support they need to stay housed and healthy.

Supportive housing is built to blend seamlessly with buildings around it. Not-for-profit organizations typically develop supportive housing to be either the nicest building on the block or ‘invisible’ to enhance desirability for neighbors and tenants.  In some areas, it might be a few units within an existing apartment complex, and in other areas it might be an entire building.

Are you literally homeless, living outside, in your car, or in an emergency shelter? If so, complete a housing assessment, called Coordinated Assessment, at Front Steps, Salvation Army, or by phone. If you are eligible for a housing program in the community, such as Permanent Supportive Housing or another type of housing program, you will be contacted by the appropriate agency once they have an opening. A case manager at the agency will work with you to help you find housing.

To complete the Coordinated Assessment:

Visit Front Steps at 500 E. 7th Street, Austin TX 78701, or
Salvation Army at 501 E. 8th Street, Austin TX 78701
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday from 9 am - 4 pm

Or call 512-234-3630
Monday - Friday from 9 am - 4 pm
 

To find out more information about Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8), visit the Housing Authority of the City of Austin's webpage or call the office at 512-477-1314.

Supportive housing can help people with psychiatric disabilities, people with histories of addiction, formerly homeless people, frail seniors, families, young people aging out of foster care, individuals leaving correctional facilities, and people living with HIV/AIDS to live independently with dignity in the community. Tenants of supportive housing often face two or more of these categories of challenges. For these populations, permanent supportive housing is a highly effective intervention. Research indicates that • More than 80% of residents stay housed for at least one year • Incarceration rates are reduced by 50% • Emergency room visits decrease by 50% • Emergency detoxification services decrease by 85%, and • There is a 50% increase in earned income.

Although permanent supportive housing is a resource-intensive intervention, the high public costs of homelessness mean that it costs essentially the same amount of money to house someone in stable, supportive housing as it does to leave that person homeless and stuck in the revolving door of high-cost crisis care and emergency housing. Cost studies demonstrate that we can either waste money prolonging people’s homelessness or spend those dollars on a long-term solution that produces positive results for people and their communities.

For more information please see the full City of Austin Permanent Supportive Housing Strategy.

Permanent supportive housing is a combination of extremely affordable housing and support services tailored to each individual or family. Just like their neighbors, people who live in supportive housing sign leases, have keys, and pay rent.

The range of services offered is flexible and depends on the needs of the residents. They can include medical and mental healthcare, vocational and employment services, child care, substance-abuse counseling, and independent living skills training.

Residents will primarily include Austin's most vulnerable chronically homeless population, many of whom are frequent users of public services like 911, courts and hospitals. Tenants can include people with psychiatric disabilities, people with histories of addiction, seniors, families, people living with HIV and AIDS, and young adults transitioning out of foster care. In most cases the service provider organization selects tenants from its own waitlist or pool of clients, and lets other agencies know when they have an opening. They then screen the client based on their particular program or tenant screening guidelines.

Supportive housing is not a shelter with an open-door policy. It has a set number of apartments allotted for homeless people with special needs.  These apartments are offered on a permanent basis and by referral only.  Further, all residents are referred by local agencies with a preference given to local residents. Most importantly, once a resident is housed in PSH, they are no longer homeless.

Because supportive housing features support staff that are focused on protecting vulnerable tenants, crime rates usually decrease as a result of supportive housing development.  Management often works closely with local police to root out illegal activity in the neighborhood.

No, in fact the opposite is true.  There is no evidence that property values diminish at all as a result of supportive housing development while there is both statistical and anecdotal evidence that property values increase.  A 2008 study quantifying the impact of development on neighborhoods shows surrounding property values substantially increased in eight of nine neighborhoods surveyed.  Common sense supports this notion since sponsors either turn blighted buildings into attractive new housing or build on abandoned empty lots that are frequently magnets for illegal activity. Furthermore, historically supportive housing has served as a catalyst for economic development.  Because supportive housing either rehabilitates a decrepit building or builds on an empty lot, it improves a block’s look and feel.

HHSD Budget On July 28, 2010, City Manager Marc Ott outlined the proposed budget for the 2011 Fiscal Year, which maintains core services and includes additional funding for a number of key initiatives. The budget for the Health and Human Services Department includes $100,000 for the Homeless Services Continuum to address the support services needed for prevention, rapid re-housing, and permanent supportive housing. NHCD Budget

In FY 2010-11, the City Council approved $7.2 million in General Obligation (G.O.) Bond funding for the creation and retention of affordable rental housing, of which  $1.775 million was  allocated to fund permanent supportive housing. Of those proposed, the following applicants have identified serving PSH sub-populations in the City’s Strategy presented to Council on September 30, 2010.

  • Foundation Communities, Arbor Terrace (Suburban Lodge SRO), 25 PSH units
  • Green Doors, Treaty Oaks Apartments, 25 PSH units
  • Summit Housing Partners, Marshall Apartments, 20 PSH units

FY2011-12 applications for funding opened on October 1, 2011 and will be awarded during the first quarter of 2012. NHCD has also created a staff position dedicated to supporting the Permanent Supportive Housing initiative.