With the proposed Foundation Communities development needing support of the neighborhood, DANA invites its membership to come out for a special presentation by the CEO of Foundation Communities and a discussion on development proposed for 11th & Trinity Street that would be the first affordable housing project proposed Downtown in over 45 years and which will include Permanent Supportive Housing. DANA board members will be looking for feedback on the design and operational proposals.
When: Thursday, February 16th, 6pm
Where: St. Mary’s Cathedral, Bishop’s Hall, 203 E 10th St Austin, Texas 78701
John Smith says
I’m all for affordable housing to help people out but downtown isn’t the right place for it. It is being developed into a classy area and this kind of thing only hinders progress.
I was shocked by your comments because I agree with everything you wrote as I did back in Feb and got my fingers bitten off by others. Downtown Austin isn’t like other downtown cities…like you said its classy and fun and for people who can afford it.
John Smith says
Keep the people who can’t afford to live downtown out of downtown. They should start by getting rid of that abomination next to the Four Seasons, so much scum resides and loiters around there. If downtown is to progress, then these people need to be forced out and have it be exclusively for people who can afford to live downtown. I’m sick of being bothered by these “people” when I’m going about my business.
I’ve worked extremely hard to have what I have, I don’t think giving these people an easy in is the way to go about it. The mental hospital or whatever it is just near 35 needs to go as well, I’m sick of being bothered by cop sirens and ambulances every time there is a problem over there.
Jude Galligan says
@John, pretty strong words. I just sent you an email to confirm you’re a real person and not just a commenting troll. We’re here to have a civilized discussion, unlike what can be found on other sites. Using real names contributes greatly to that.
John speaks the truth. it’s a sad commentary on the state of public discourse today that when someone speaks against the prevailing narrative the assumption is that he must be a commenting troll. Because a real person simply would not hold such views, right?
Jude, I think you would be shocked by just how many members of the public who live and work downtown feel exactly the same way, but don’t say anything publicly because of the blowback they’d receive for challenging the narrative that “affordable” housing is desirable and good for all the neighbors.
Jude Galligan says
Not really. I wouldn’t be shocked at all.
Regular readers of DAB know that this is a safe place for philosophical differences. Hyperbole and vitriol is not tolerated here. I’m not going to allow a drive by comment that calls people scum.
John Choate says
This is the type of project that downtown Austin doesn’t need. Public housing has proven to be a failure and detriment to just about every community it invades. The people behind projects like these do not care about the community… they only want to make themselves feel better.
Look what the Salvation Army and Caritas have done to this section of downtown. How much money has the community lost in property taxes and lost tourism? Why continue this disaster? We should be removing these types of projects from the Sixth Street area… not expanding them. These people had to be forced to put ground level retail…ON A DOWNTOWN PROJECT. They had to be forced to create a MINIMALLY ACCEPTABLE DESIGN FOR A DOWNTOWN BLOCK. Does anybody trust people so clueless to actually deliver a responsible product for the city?
Lance Hunter says
This project is not public housing, and it’s nothing at all like the Salvation Army or Carnitas. The fact that you’re trying to paint this with the same brush shows a huge lack of understanding (or that you just consider everyone who makes less money than you part of a big homogenous lump of “poor bums” out to ruin the neighborhood).
As for no ground level retail, have you walked around 11th and Trinity recently? The whole area is almost entirely offices, state and private. Putting in ground-level retail would be a big change for that part of downtown, and I could understand the developer being concerned that the area wouldn’t be the kind of retail hotspot that would support setting aside the ground floor of their building.
Really, though, this comes down to a question of whether we want the whole of downtown to be exclusively for people who can afford >$500k condos and >$2k/month one-bedroom apartments. That just isn’t a way to build a sustainable neighborhood (especially when the biggest employer in the neighborhood, the state of Texas, pays an average of $38k a year to its employees, with many making a lot less than that). This building isn’t the solution to making downtown a more diverse and sustainable neighborhood, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
It seems as though your biased statements are based upon an uninformed belief and that you actually know nothing about Foundation Communities, affordable housing, or the dynamics of real estate development.
Foundation Communities is a non-profit organization that provides housing and supportive services for working low-income individuals and families. They are sophisticated and recently developed a 150-unit apartment project in East Austin called M Station what is the first LEED Platinum apartment building (of any kind) in the state of Texas.
Unless I am mistaken this project will not have a public housing component. The development is made possible through the sale of tax credits and private donations. The tenants are working individuals and families earning approximately $10-$12/per hour.
Lastly, this site is encumbered by a view corridor and a parking requirement. Most types of development would not be financially viable on this site for these reasons. If downtown Austin is going to continue to be a dynamic environment then there should be some very minimal level of affordable housing. This project would fit the bill very well.
christina velasquez says
when and where would you be able to apply?
Just don’t think this is conducive for this part of Austin. If they want this done they should look at the east side or towards the old airport. It’s just too close to the downtown district and who’s idea is this anyways? Sounds liberal and abject to further discussion at this point.
First of all it seems to be a public housing project. Downtown Austin is grand and should remain grand…with condos/hotels that maximize the idea of this. Not some low-income housing project coming around the corner just so people who make 30k/yr can live downtown. If you want this then I suggest you go live in Chicago. Austin needs to retain its luxury life-style status not some low income/high luxury downtown skyline. Austin’s downtown is for the well fortunate and that doesn’t need to change. Period.
Lance Hunter says
If you want an exclusive luxury neighborhood, you should go live in some gated community up around Lakeway.
Homogenization doesn’t work in dense urban neighborhoods, and attempts to make something the size of Austin’s downtown into a homogenous luxury neighborhood won’t work in the long-run. You’ll end up with a temporary bubble that will push prices real high for a little while, strangling out businesses that make a neighborhood livable, and then in a decade or so (when the people looking to spend $500k on a home realize there are fewer and fewer differences between living in a downtown condo and living in a gated community in Lakeway) you end up with a crash.
Not allowing for income diversity in downtown residents is ultimately going to result in a downtown that’s less appealing to people and has fewer buyers. An all-luxury downtown will end up losing out to neighborhoods like SoCo and South First; both of which are currently doing really well and supporting plenty of upscale living while also having a healthy amount of income diversity.
John Smith says
couldn’t agree more
Lance Hunter says
It’s unfortunate that it looks like there might actually be a fight over this project. Affordable housing like this is good for the people who live there and for the neighborhoods where they are placed. I lived in a similar place after I had to leave college (thanks to a cancer diagnosis that I was able to beat). I was supporting myself with a part-time job at UPS and working on getting myself back on my feet. Having a decent place to live at a reasonable price really helped me through the process. I was able to save up, got a much better job, and it was only one year after I moved out of the affordable housing (to a rental house I shared with a good friend) before I was doing well enough to buy my own condo. Had it not been for the few years I was able to live in that affordable little efficiency I don’t know that I’d be doing as well as I am now.
Also, while I was living in that affordable housing I saw the way that it helped change the neighborhood around it. (The place was actually formerly student-only housing, it got bought out and was the opened to non-students right as I was moving in.) When I first moved in, a homeless guy actually tried knocking on my door one Saturday night to ask me for change, and there was a lot of panhandling and vagrancy around the bus stop in front of the building. Having a bunch of working people in the complex helped change the flavor of the entire neighborhood. First the bodega across the street was able to expand and started changing their stock to focus less on the malt liquor and such that the vagrants were buying and more on the typical convenience store items that the (comparatively) better-off customers were starting to come in for. Pretty soon a coffee shop had opened a few blocks away, then a cool little taco stand. By the time I moved out of that place people moving in didn’t have any idea that vagrants and panhandlers used to be in that area. The place had turned away the blight and become a nice, lower-middle-class neighborhood. Sure, not all of that could be attributed to the one affordable housing building, but those hundred units and their residents definitely played a part.
So yea, downtown doesn’t necessarily need to be saved from blight the same way that old neighborhood did, but the argument for how much affordable housing units help their residents still holds. (And hopefully the example of how much that building helped prevent blight counters any argument that this new project would hurt the neighborhood.) Having such a great location would be a huge boon to those who work downtown and aren’t pulling in lots of money (service industry, retail, lower-level state employees). Even if you could care less about helping others, at the very least this would be advantageous for the downtown neighborhood because it would mean all those residents wouldn’t have to drive in (and park) when they came to work. Having more diversity in the income base of the people living downtown also means there would be opportunities for more types of businesses, creating a neighborhood that’s more sustainable rather than a top-heavy situation where everything is either trying to get the dollars of residents in the half-million-dollar condos or going for the volatile tourists and entertainment district customers.
Lance Hunter says
Oh yea, and one more thing, if you want to see a decrease in panhandling downtown, this is the project for you. Really, I can’t think of anything short of moving the ARCH building to another part of town that would decrease the panhandling more (and honestly, this might still reduce it more than that would). As I was mentioning in my original post, the panhandling disappeared around the affordable housing building where I used to live. Only part of that was the fact that the bodega wasn’t stocking $1.50 40s anymore. You haven’t seen a panhandler get taken to task ’till you’ve seen a man, on his way to work a $9/hr job, hoping he’ll have some overtime that week (so he’ll have a some spare cash to take out his girl) get asked for change outside his own home. That kind of crap does not fly.
Interesting. I wasn’t quite sure what was meant by Permanent Supportive Housing, so I found a City of Austin PDF that defines it in explicit detail. It makes for interesting reading, but in a nutshell the taxpayers of Austin, many of whom can’t afford to live downtown, will be subsidizing those residents of Austin who, for whatever reason, have failed at that great game of life.
And we’re not just subsidizing them; we’re making it possible to live on some extremely pricy real-estate in a very desirable location. I’m not at all certain what’s to be gained by putting this project right down the street from the Capital, but I suspect it has a lot to do with assuaging liberal guilt.
It will be interesting to see, after this project goes live, just how many homeless will still be living under the bridges over Waller Creek.