Supporting Housing Institute to bring 550 new units towards city goal of 1,300

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Monday September 19, 2022 by Chad Swiatecki

The city’s goal of working its way out of the homeless crisis will be supported over the next year by six local organizations being trained by one of the national leaders in creating supportive housing for the homeless.

Last week, the Corporation for Supportive Housing announced it was teaming up with Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation, JP Morgan Chase and Texas Capital Bank to open the new Texas Supportive Housing Institute, based in Austin. The new organization, which will be based in TSAHC’s local offices, will train local homeless groups as well as developers and property managers on best practices to build new units for the homeless and provide the services needed to enable residents to find stability and thrive.

The six organizations being trained – Austin Area Urban League, the Cady Lofts development team, Caritas of Austin, Family Eldercare, Integral Care and SAFE Alliance – will be taking courses through December, with each presenting their plans in January to hundreds of profound to create affordable new housing to help the local homeless population.

These new housing units — 550 total is expected from the six participants — will contribute to the city’s goal of building 1,300 new housing units for the homeless, with vouchers to help find housing for an additional 1,700 people. Last year, the city announced a $550 million plan to house 3,000 homeless people, using a mix of federal, county and city funds and contributions from philanthropic groups. As of last week, that plan had reached 90 percent of its funding goal.

Mayor Steve Adler said the institute, supporting a city for the first time since convening two years ago, will provide much-needed expertise to groups familiar with the challenges of Austin’s homelessness crisis.

“Homelessness is not a problem that can be solved quickly; It requires significant funding, long-term planning, and consistent community support. Unfortunately, no city has ended homelessness as it is one of our biggest challenges nationally,” Adler said via email. “However, there are American cities that emphasize that if homelessness is not addressed, a difficult problem becomes an unmanageable problem. In building our own system to target our vulnerable residents, we visited cities like San Francisco and LA to see what worked and what we could learn from it.”

Michael Wilt, TSAHC’s senior manager of external relations, said the money already raised by the city for the larger goal of 3,000 units will help because portions can be specifically allocated for hard-to-fund city- or area-level service programs for individual housing projects.

“The biggest challenge is how to pay for this type of housing. Assisted living is difficult to fund because most multifamily buildings have debts that are serviced by rent payments from tenants. But with assisted living, rents are extremely low because tenants have little to no income. In addition, you need a sustained service program that requires significant overhead. Funding just one development is complicated, but we’re trying to fund multiple developments at once in Austin,” he said via email.

“That could be the greatest strength of the community and what could make it successful.”

Wilt said six groups working on already funded supportive housing projects with the same goal of completing construction within three years are likely to create momentum in the market.

“With this cohort, we anticipate that our level of success will be much higher as our teams are roughly at the same stage in the development process and have capital commitments to build their developments. The latter consideration is usually the biggest obstacle. This is a testament to the resources the city and county have dedicated to this endeavor and the shared vision these teams have for building successful supportive communities.”

Photo made available under a Creative Commons license.

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