City Council identifies mobile home parks as a crucial tool in affordability crisis at meeting Thursday

Austin City Hall

Austin City Hall

Mobile home tenants throughout Austin have fallen victim in recent years to gentrification, with rapid redevelopment resulting in rapid displacement; however, Austin City Council on Thursday identified mobile home parks as vital in battling the city’s affordability crisis.

The City Council communicated its focus on mobile home parks through a pair of actions aimed at preservation.

Several mobile home parks, owned by private landowners, are not zoned as such. The council will attempt to rezone all such mobile home parks for mobile home usage to guard tenants against being replaced by single-family homes or commercial parks.

“We want families living in mobile homes to know that they are welcome in our city—this zoning change is an important step to solidify that the City Council wants them to remain in Austin,” said District 4 Council Member Greg Casar, head sponsor of the zoning change. Casar said such changes were due under CodeNEXT—the city’s now-defunct attempt to rewrite its land development code—and “emergency action” is now necessary.

There are currently 37 mobile home parks throughout Austin, but city staff is unsure how many are zoned incorrectly.

The council has recently highlighted purchasing as a way to secure existing, and create new, affordable housing. On Thursday, the council directed city staff to target mobile home parks in order to preserve them as such and maintain their affordability.

The direction, which was brought forward by Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo attempts to take gentrification head-on, by acquiring existing multifamily developments and mobile home parks occupied by households earning 60 percent or lower than the median family income to protect them from private purchase and potential redevelopment.

According to city documents, 35 percent of the city earns 60 percent or lower than the median family income—just over $80,000 for a four-person household—but only 15 percent of the housing is available to them. The actions by the council attempt to address this, along with the city’s housing goals, which in part aim to preserve 10,000 affordable units over the next 10 years.

A major part of the land acquisition will be the $250 million affordable housing bond set to go in front of voters Nov. 6, of which $100 million would go toward purchasing land.
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By Christopher Neely

Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following two years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Su


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