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Texas Senate Committee discusses affordable housing crisis

File image of a newly-constructed apartment complex in Austin.{ } (CBS Austin)
File image of a newly-constructed apartment complex in Austin. (CBS Austin)
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Tuesday, a Texas Senate Committee on Local Government listened in on ways to improve affordable housing in Texas.

With the cost of living constantly rising and more people coming to Texas, finding an affordable home is becoming less and less likely.

Lawmakers heard from various non-profits with insight on affordable housing.

"Now there are some issues with affordable housing that we should explore now," said state Senator Paul Bettencourt, Chairman.

Those issues took hours to discuss with several organizations sharing their thoughts on the affordable housing crisis, like Habitat for Humanity.

"For years we've heard about all sorts of different ideas about how to tackle home ownership and we've come up with a plan," said Craig Chick, board member for Habitat for Humanity. "We built about 300 houses in Texas. We think we can double that if we have better access to capital."

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The CEO of Austin Habitat for Humanity shared how the program has helped get low-income families into homes with a high success rate.

"Our people work really hard to get in their homes, so they have a lot of interest staying in them and there's not a lot of affordable places to live," said Phyllis Snodgrass, CEO of Austin Habitat for Humanity.

Texans for Reasonable Solutions, a nonprofit, came up with legislative solutions and presented it to the committee.

"Unnecessary time delays like waiting for months for an inspector to show up or waiting months for permit delays significantly drives up cost," said Nicole Nosek, Chair for Texans for Reasonable Solutions.

Ending time delays along with using existing state infrastructure funds, ensuring transparency and workability of laws were just a few of the solutions suggested by Nosek.

"From pre-pandemic levels, the average rent price has increased 27% throughout the entire Texas area. So, we're focused on the entirety of the state," Nosek said.

Planning remains one of the highest priorities.

"The more that we decide that we're not going to build, that is when we're going to end up with failed housing policies just like California and it's important that we do something now before it's too late," Nosek said.

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Texans for Reasonable Solutions said in a few months they plan to return to the Capitol. They’ll introduce pieces of legislation that benefit the working middle class, so people like teachers and firefighters can live where they work.

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