Austin will soon begin accepting applications for housing construction under the new rules enacted with City Council's passage of one piece of the "HOME" initiative late last year.

The big picture

The HOME, or Home Options for Middle-Income Empowerment, plan was developed by city officials throughout 2023 in a stated attempt to encourage more housing at lower price points in Austin's residential areas.

HOME was split into two phases as it moved through review at City Hall. The first, centered on allowing more housing units on a property, was met with split community feedback before its eventual approval in early December.

The second part, aimed at cutting down the minimum amount of land needed to build a home in Austin, will move through additional public review and council consideration this spring.

After multiple hours-long public hearings and some amendments from city officials, the most notable change now in effect under HOME Phase One is allowing up to three housing units on most of Austin's single-family properties. In addition to some other regulatory changes, the change also increased the number of unrelated people who can live together in one unit.

The initial HOME ordinance approved Dec. 7 can be viewed here.

What's happening

About two months after City Council signed off on HOME's first phase, the Development Services Department will begin accepting multi-unit residential construction applications under the new rules starting Feb. 5. Council members had amended the HOME ordinance last year to ensure a two-month buffer before city staff would begin processing any applications.

Any development applications filed before the first week of February will still be subject to current building rules, including the lower unit allowance in single-family zones, according to the DSD.

Applicants for already-proposed two-unit projects who'd like to opt into the HOME policies can update their earlier plans by notifying the department. However, updated permitting for three-unit projects would require applicants to resubmit their materials.

Additionally, any applicants seeking to have their plans reviewed under current policies after the Feb. 5 switch can apply for a one-year extension for consideration under pre-HOME regulations through the Fair Notice Application process.

More information on HOME and its effects on the permitting process are available online.