Housing Solutions

How Austin HBA Engaged in Transformative City Code Reform

Urban planners and policymakers are increasingly turning their attention to innovative solutions that challenge traditional land use policy and zoning norms in the pursuit of housing affordability. At the intersection of increasing housing density and reducing the upward pressure on housing costs caused by limited supply comes the HOME Initiative in Austin, Texas.

This fast-growing city, the fastest in the country, is struggling to keep up with the rise in housing demand. The median home prices now sits at $639,000 (up from $240,000 just 10 years ago), and combined with a population reported at one million and years of city council resistance to easing zoning regulations, this lack of affordability has impacted the livability of this influential city dramatically over the last decade.

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), In response to these challenges, the Austin City Council passed updates, entitled the Home Options for Middle-Income Empowerment (HOME) Initiative, to the city’s Land Development Code in December 2023.

HOME was broken into two parts to be considered in separate council meetings over the course of a few months. Phase 1 allows for three units by-right on any single-family lot, while Phase 2 reduces the minimum lot size and allows for additional flexibility with setbacks, height and other design standards.

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