Inclusive and affordable housing is a challenge for any city. The code revisions offer more diverse housing choices and building types, along with a citywide framework for affordable housing.

Housing goals addressed in CodeNEXT include:

  • Developing More Diverse Housing Choices

  • Allowing More Units per Property

  • Creating Affordability Incentives

  • Permitting Flexible Live/Work Places

  • Encouraging Connected Communities

Challenges with the current code:

  • Two forms of housing dominate Austin: Single-family houses and large apartment buildings. This lack of housing variety does not reflect Austin’s diversity and contributes to growing affordability issues.

  • Housing supply has fallen well short of demand, due in part to cumbersome regulations. Much of the new housing that has been built caters only to specific market segments.

  • The current mix of affordable housing incentive programs have provided some needed affordable housing units, but each program was individually crafted and none are keeping up with the changing market.

  • The existing code is based on an old model of large-scale office and industrial development, and limits the ability of small business owners to live and thrive in Austin.

  • New development occurs in pods of single-family or multi-family uses with few access points, which weakens walkability, creates traffic bottlenecks, and isolates housing options from important services.

Proposed solutions in the new code:

  • The new code allows more diversity in housing types, such as duplex, multiplex, cottage courts, courtyard buildings, rowhouses, and accessory dwelling units.

  • By allowing more units and incentivizing a range of unit sizes in appropriate areas, the new code makes it easier to develop more housing to suit a range of space and economic needs while ensuring it is built in a context-sensitive manner to work within the character of the neighborhood.

  • A new citywide incentive framework, the Affordable Housing Bonus Program, has been incorporated into many zones to help stimulate the production of affordable homes in a carefully-calibrated manner.

  • A greater range of building types and new uses that are compatible with neighborhoods, main streets, and light industrial areas can allow for the development of more housing and job choices.

  • Strengthening existing regulations for subdivisions, including street, sidewalk, and trail connectivity, and encouraging a diverse mix of housing types creates development that connects with surrounding communities and improves walkability.

WATCH: CodeTALK on Affordability (May 8, 2017)


Panelists' presentations
Erica Leak (COA Neighborhood Housing and Community Development): Austin Strategic Housing Blueprint + CodeNEXT
Lisa Wise (Lisa Wise Consulting): Austin Land Development Code, Affordable Housing CodeTALK
Ian Carlton (ECONorthwest): Affordability CodeTALK
Abe Farkas (ECONorthwest): Expanded Affordability Toolkit