The push to make Austin more affordable is taking shape in the form of a new complex on South Lamar Boulevard—at least according to some city leaders.
Council Member Mike Martinez said the 40 apartments of The Legacy complex are part of the answer to Austin's housing crisis.
"Forty units that are here, 500 applications,” Martinez said. “The need is far greater than anything we can possibly provide."
Martinez and other city leaders used the ribbon cutting of The Legacy complex as an opportunity to advocate for the city's $65 million affordable housing bond on the ballot this November. The money would go toward housing projects for Austin's low income families.
"We are simply losing Austinites all over because they can't afford to live in Austin," Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole said.
Critics to the bond say part of the reason Austin is expensive is due to the city’s rising property taxes.
"In a quest to create affordability, our city government is making existing homes unaffordable for the people that live here," Roger Falk with the Travis County Taxpayers Union said.
Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole says the bonds will not increase taxes. While it will keep the tax rate the same, the amount residents pay is bound to be more as the property increases in value.
"A project like this changes that, and it changes that we do business, and it changes the people who we serve," Cole said.
The Legacy complex was built with some city money, but most of the funding was raised by the Mary Lee Foundation.
City leaders say the public/private/nonprofit partnership should be the template for future projects.
“It was quite a challenge and there were many times where it looked like we were going to stop dead in the water over the two-year lining up finance period, but it all worked out,” Stuart Hersh with the Mary Lee Foundation said.
The Mary Lee Foundation helped build four other affordable and accessible housing complexes in the Lamar Square area.
They plan to build another 2,000 apartments in the area over the next few years.