Austin 'Right to Return' Policy Implemented for the First Time

A North Austin development will be the first approved under the city's new Right to Stay and Right to Return policies, aimed at preventing displacement in gentrifying neighborhoods.

Read Time: 2 minutes

September 16, 2021, 10:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Emily Nonko reports on a proposed development in North Austin that "will triple the size of a small existing park, add retail and non-profit space, and build hundreds of affordable homes with Austin’s new Right to Stay and Right to Return policies, which allow working-class families currently living in the gentrifying neighborhood to find permanently affordable places to stay, and also allow displaced families with historic ties to the neighborhood to be preferred for affordable units." The Austin City Council passed the policies in 2018 in an effort to help "families affected by gentrification in certain Austin neighborhoods."  

The lot in the St. John neighborhood was bought by the city in 2008 with plans to build a police substation and courthouse, but "plans stalled and opposition grew." After years of community activism and outreach, "private developer Greystar will partner with the Housing Authority of the City of Austin to build at least 560 housing units, half of which will be for households earning between 50 and 70 percent of Austin’s median family income." The developer will also enhance an adjacent park, build "at least 15,000 square feet of retail and 'support services space' responsive to community needs," and pay off a $10.8 million bond owed on the property.

Although the actual effectiveness of the policies is yet untested, Councilmember Greg Casar hopes the project "can really serve as a model of how we can develop dozens more acres of city-owned property, where we get the housing stock we need so that people can come back to neighborhoods they’ve been pushed out of."

Wednesday, September 8, 2021 in Next City

Chicago Commute

The Right to Mobility

As we consider how to decarbonize transportation, preserving mobility, especially for lower- and middle-income people, must be a priority.

January 26, 2023 - Angie Schmitt

Sharrow bike markings on black asphalt two-lane road with snowy trees

Early Sharrow Booster: ‘I Was Wrong’

The lane marking was meant to raise awareness and instill shared respect among drivers and cyclists. But their inefficiency has led supporters to denounce sharrows, pushing instead for more robust bike infrastructure that truly protects riders.

January 26, 2023 - Streetsblog USA

View of stone-paved street with pedestrians and "Farmers Market" neon sign on left and old buildings on right in Seattle, Washington

Push and Pull: The Link Between Walkability and Affordability

The increased demand for walkable urban spaces could make them more and more exclusionary if cities don’t pursue policies to limit displacement and boost affordability.

January 27, 2023 - Smart Cities Dive

View of Tacoma, Washington with Mount Rainier in background

Tacoma Developing New Housing Policy

The city’s Home in Tacoma plan is designed to address the region’s growth and rising housing prices, but faces local backlash over density and affordability concerns.

February 2 - The Urbanist

Green alley under construction

Green Alleys: A New Paradigm for Stormwater Management

Rather than shuttling stormwater away from the city and into the ocean as quickly as possible, Los Angeles is now—slowly—moving toward a ‘city-as-sponge’ approach that would capture and reclaim more water to recharge crucial reservoirs.

February 2 - Curbed

Aerial view of residential neighborhood in La Habra, California at sunset

Orange County Project Could Go Forward Under ‘Builder’s Remedy’

The nation’s largest home builder could receive approval for a 530-unit development under an obscure state law as the city of La Habra’s zoning laws hang in limbo after the state rejected its proposed housing plan.

February 2 - Orange County Register