The City of Austin may provide developers with incentives—such as fee waivers, density bonuses, tax incentives, and development agreements—to build and to set aside affordable rental and ownership housing for low- and moderate-income households in developments.

Density Bonuses

Density Bonuses allow developers to build more units than are allowed by a site’s base zoning if the developer agrees to set aside a portion of units for income-restricted affordable housing or, in some cases, pay a fee, known as a fee-in-lieu. The affordable housing units must be income-restricted and leased or sold to a low-income or moderate-income household for the required affordability period. Examples include the Downtown Density Bonus, University Neighborhood Overlay (UNO), Transit-Oriented Development, East Riverside Corridor, and North Burnet Gateway Density Bonus.

The following documents relate to our Density Bonus Programs:

To apply for a Density Bonus Program, please email the completed application to

Download the current Density Bonus application PDF)

Affordability Unlocked is a development bonus program that waives or modifies some development restrictions in exchange for providing affordable housing. In return for setting aside half of a development’s total units as affordable, developments can receive increased height and density limits, parking and compatibility waivers, and reductions in minimum lot sizes. The program is designed to increase the number of affordable housing units being developed in Austin and fully leverage public resources by allowing housing providers to build more units in their developments when significant amounts of affordable housing are included. Please visit the Affordability Unlocked program website below for more information.  

Development Incentive Programs

Development Incentives allow developers to access additional financial tools to help underwrite affordable housing developments. The City of Austin SMART Housing program provides fee waivers for development permits in exchange for onsite income-restricted units. Additional funding options exist through the City’s Rental Housing Development Assistance (RHDA) and Ownership Housing Development Assistance (OHDA) programs. 

To apply for SMART Housing or UNO certification, please visit the application website (Web).

PLEASE NOTE: Prospective tenants who would like to apply for an affordable housing unit to rent within the city limits of Austin must contact the apartment community of interest and complete their application process. The City of Austin does not have an application process for individuals looking to rent an affordable unit. Please visit the Income and Rent Limits website (Web) for more information. 

To learn more about the City’s RHDA and OHDA programs, please visit the program website (Web).

Affordability is also promoted through Development Agreements which may produce affordable units and/or fees-in-lieu. The following documents relate to our development incentive programs: