Austin City Council Backs 'HOME' Initiative to Boost Middle-Income Housing Options

Austin City Council Backs 'HOME' Initiative to Boost Middle-Income Housing OptionsSource: WhisperToMe, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Matt Mitchell
Published on December 08, 2023

In a notable shift in Austin's housing landscape, the City Council has given the green light to amendments aimed at empowering middle-income residents by revamping land use regulations. According to a statement released on Austin's official website, the amendments passed with a convincing 9-2 supermajority vote.

The newly minted measures under the "Home Options for Middle-Income Empowerment” (HOME) Initiative look set to reshape single-family zoned areas with more diversity in housing types. The legislation allows homeowners in specified zones to cram up to three housing units on their property. It also nods to the tiny home trend by smoothing the way for these diminutive dwellings on private lots. Moreover, those looking to bank on the charm of existing structures can cash in on preservation and sustainability bonuses, offering incentives for keeping up neighborhood aesthetics and reducing waste.

Aiming to cater to those entering the housing market, the HOME Initiative encourages smaller, more affordable "starter homes.” Residents with property in specific zones such as Single-Family Residence Large Lot (SF-1), Single-Family Residence Standard Lot (SF-2), and Family Residence (SF-3) can explore these new options. Potential builders should keep in mind that local site constraints, homeowners' associations, and other regulations might affect their grand designs.

The amendments also tackle the fine print on who can share a roof; they have axed the cap on unrelated adults cohabitating in both single-family and apartment dwellings, but don't worry, occupancy limits will still be enforced to prevent sardine-can-style living situations, mandating adequate square footage per person as laid out in the city’s Property Maintenance Code.

While these code changes open up new avenues for property owners, nobody's being corralled into a construction frenzy here. Homeowners have full freedom to stick with the status quo or dip their toes into these fresh building and income stream opportunities. The choice, as they say, is theirs.