Austin ISD officials spent the evening of Feb. 13 virtually talking with concerned AISD residents and staff members about proposed affordable housing the district is seeking to build at the Anita Ferrales Coy site, located at 4900 Gonzales St., Austin.

“We want you to know the district is focused on increasing staff wages,” AISD Director of Real Estate Jeremy Striffler said during the meeting. “These proposed housing projects are to complement, not take away, from increasing staff wages. The board has been very clear on that.”

Striffler said although the district will own the land, it will not be the landlord, nor will it collect rent as the part of the site where the affordable housing sites will be leased.

Rent, he said, will have caps based on how much a person or family can earn to qualify to live in the proposed affordable housing units. For example, a family of four will be restricted to making no more than 120% of the median family income, as laid out by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is $132,350 for a four-person family. Striffler said about half of the proposed units would be capped at 80% of the median family income, which is $88,250 for a family of four. He said the district would also like to see units in the 30%-60% median family income range, which is $33,100-$66,180, according to HUD.

Other factors the district will keep in mind will be compatibility requirements, he said. These include restrictions on building height based on nearby single-family homes; the protection of the heritage trees on the site; and about 1.7 acres that are a Federal Emergency Management Agency-designated flood zone, which cannot be developed and the district will use as green space.

Striffler said the district has about 10,000 staff members, and they were surveyed about housing needs.

“Of that 10,000, about 2,760 responded to the survey,” Striffler said. “Of that 2,760, 73.2% identified as cost burdened by housing expenses, meaning they spend 30% or more of their income on housing.”

As a result, Striffler said the district will prioritize teachers, staff and families who reside in the district for the affordable housing units—but they will not have exclusive access to these units.

The next step in the process will be in March at the informational and voting sessions of the board of trustees, he said. It is at this time the trustees are expected to approve site criteria for a right for proposal.

As for teachers and staff who own their homes but need help, Striffler said the district is looking at other ways to support them beyond just building affordable rentals.

“We have a housing resource page online and are looking for other opportunities acknowledging about half of our staff own their homes,” Striffler said.