Having a place to call home is essential for individual, family, and community wellbeing, as well as for the economic growth and success of our region. However, Central Texas (the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area, made up of Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties) is the 9th least affordable region in the country.
Research demonstrates that access to safe, stable, affordable housing is deeply linked to physical and mental health, as well as education outcomes, economic mobility, involvement in the criminal justice system, quality of life, and more. Ignoring the vital role of housing jeopardizes our region’s ability to achieve our health, economic, and educational goals.
In the greater Austin area, housing costs are outpacing wage growth and half of Austin’s renters are considered cost-burdened; these families are disproportionately Black and Latinx. Because the location and quality of housing is linked to economic, health, and educational opportunities, a lack of affordable housing can perpetuate and deepen existing racial inequities.
Additionally, the lack of affordable housing in our region is a driving force behind homelessness. Apart from those living unsheltered, there are even more people whose economic instability puts them at risk of losing their housing. To successfully solve for homelessness, our community also needs to solve to the insufficient supply of affordable housing, using both traditional and creative strategies.
Because housing is a social determinant of health, as well as a barrier to achieving desired education and economic outcomes, the involvement of the philanthropy sector in affordable housing has increased. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated and highlighted these issues, as well as increasing understanding of the systemic racism at play. This report set out to identify how and why philanthropy should play a role in the housing crisis.
There is still time to address the housing affordability crisis and invest in ways that lead to vibrant, diverse, and healthy communities. This report presents a framework for investment ranging from modest to large and proven to emerging as well as recommendations for how Foundations can strategize and evaluate their work in this field. Insights on the opportunity for philanthropy and the housing issue as it relates to equity and health can be found in the graphics in the sidebar (click images to expand).