Real estate group to help find answers to housing questions

Published 5:32 pm Friday, November 5, 2021

As the City of Austin continues to search for ways to improve housing options in the community, a group of experts from the Counselors of Real Estate was on hand this week to help find ways to reach that goal.

The CRE Consulting Corps was in Austin Monday through Thursday, with the specific aim of analyzing Austin’s current housing situation, while at the same time identifying public and private financial tools, sharing best practices from other communities and presenting feasible, action-oriented tools and solutions.

“We know we have challenges when it comes to housing in the community,” said City Administrator Craig Clark. “We’ve put forward an effort that will last several years to make improvements on that. We want to continue to make improvements.”

Austin is taking a broad-brush approach to the challenge, painting a canvas of market rate, senior housing and needs at all levels.

CRE’s Consulting Corps helps with that. Throughout their stay they talked to city leaders, local realtors, business leaders and everybody in between to gather data and  information. Their findings will be presented to the city at a later date.

The need is pressing because of Austin’s current growth.

“In Austin, we are a growing community,” Clark said. “Our housing stock is aging and part of that aging is both maintaining the physical structure, but also having modern development purposes.”

In recent years, there have been major steps in easing the housing question in Austin. Most recently was the addition of Flats on 21st, which had an aim of bringing affordable housing again to Austin.

Flats on 21st was developed by the Stencil Group, which is looking to make another addition to Austin after purchasing the YMCA building.

“If we get this right, it’s going to have long term benefits for the city in many ways,” Clark said.

One of those benefits would likely be a strong tax base. As housing becomes more available, people will be more likely to set down roots, which in turn strengthens the revenue base of Austin.

It also may help with drawing potential businesses to town.

“It’s probably not necessarily the first question prospective businesses ask, but it doesn’t go too far and they are asking about workforce availability and then housing availability,” Clark said.

While Clark admits it was a whirlwind four days, the experience was a needed and positive one.

“Their experience is really impressive,” Clark said. “At this point we’re catching a glimpse of where this might be going as far as the findings are concerned. We’re very optimistic to get some very good, tangible recommendations.”