By Daniella Cuellar
Over the past few years in Texas, the cost of renting an apartment or a home has soared, making homeownership unattainable for many residents. With the relocation of major tech giants like Oracle, Google, Apple, and more recently Gigafactory Texas (an automotive manufacturing facility near Austin built by Tesla, Inc), landlords have steadily increased rents, and home sellers have increased their property values.
Because of this, longtime residents are being priced out of their hometowns.
So, how have locally elected officials in Texas responded to this housing crisis? Mayor Blake Margolis of Rowlett, Commissioner Tommy Calvert of San Antonio, and Councilmember Vanessa Fuentes of Austin, have demonstrated a willingness to protect residents from an inflated housing market, by introducing unique plans to combat inflation in their communities.
In July of 2022, Mayor Blake Margolis announced a proposal to limit the amount of homes institutional investors can buy in Rowlett. His initiative was brought forth due to the increased concern over the percentage of homes owned by investment groups in Texas, which is as high as 45% in Dallas. Mayor Margolis made it known that capping the number of homes investors can buy would improve the availability of housing for the actual residents of Rowlett.
Similarly, in May of 2022, Commissioner Tommy Calvert of San Antonio pushed for redevelopment around the AT&T Center so that housing would be included in the process. Commissioner Calvert is also pushing a countywide effort for an affordable housing plan, that includes development subsidies to incentivize stable rent prices.
Hopefully, this will protect Eastside residents from being priced out of their homes.
In June of 2022, Austin Councilmember Vanessa Fuentes sponsored a resolution to increase the city’s hourly wage to $22 an hour so that city employees would make a wage that matched the cost of living in the city. Councilmember Fuentes’ resolution directed the city manager to propose a budget with a new minimum wage of $22 an hour, and a plan to increase the hourly wage to $27 in the coming years.
Whether or not these initiatives will be successful in the long run remains to be seen. However, with the spotlight firmly on protecting longtime residents of Texas, there is a conversation to be had about the housing and wage initiatives that have already helped those being priced out by large, out of state companies.