Civil Rights leaders are demanding action on MLK Day to stop gentrification in East Austin.
The activists banded together to ask the City of Austin (COA) to honor Martin Luther King Jr. by helping longtime residents stay in their homes. Their plan is to get the Austin City Council to delay the final vote on proposed Land Development Code revisions until an anti-gentrification program is implemented that they think actually works.
"Our property was worth $39,000 when we bought it in 1984," said Dr. Jane Rivera, co-chair of the Housing and Finance Committee of the Mayor's Task Force on Institutional Racism. 36 years later the home's value has multiplied more than 10 times. "Today, it's almost $500,000," said Rivera.
Rivera and her husband now worry the gentrification and displacement happening in East Austin might force them to sell. "I'm hoping we can stay in place before taxes go up so much we can't stay there," said Rivera.
Rivera says in the past few years she's seen entire blocks of single-family homes be replaced with housing that has two to five times the density that was originally there.
"Although they tell us greater density equals more affordability, I dare you to find a single block in the City of Austin, a single one, in which the rents or house prices have reduced with all this new development," said Rivera.
The East Austin leaders are joining together to ask the city to delay rezoning in areas that are vulnerable to gentrification and displacement.
"Let's stop this final adoption of the Land Development Code until we put an anti-displacement program in place," said Susana Almanza the head of PODER.
Almanza and others at Monday's news conference say they're not satisfied with a plan that serves the middle class and up.
"We need to look at how we can create ownership of land for African-Americans, Mexican-Americans and other marginalized and low-income communities. And not just a few rental units in a new luxury development. That is not equity," said Carmen Llanes Pulido, head of Go Austin, Vamos Austin.
The long-time East Austin residents want Mayor Steve Adler and city council members to stop talking and take real action to stop the gentrification of entire neighborhoods.
"It seems like my husband and I have been in a constant struggle trying to prevent our neighborhood from disappearing," said Rivera.
"Significant displacement is happening everyday under the current land development code. We should not delay any longer adopting a new code designed in part to help fix this. For the last six years, neighborhoods and communities across the city have participated in drafting a new code focused on affordability, equity and the environment. Anti-displacement measures are being built into the new code and the city will continue to make this a spending priority,” said Mayor Steve Adler in a statement sent to CBS Austin on Monday.