by Samantha Smith
Buda is taking steps to potentially offer more options when it comes to housing as it rolled out its Housing Action Plan citizen survey on the city’s website earlier this month.
Buda Planning Director Chance Sparks said the catalyst for the council’s approval of a Housing Action Plan came after the city received some low income housing tax credits (LIHTC) for projects that never were able to get off the ground.
“The uncompleted projects prompted the conversation for the Housing Action Plan, so we (Buda) could determine if we were getting what we wanted with the types of housing being built,” Sparks said.
Buda’s survey consists of 23 questions ranging from asking residents’ age, where they currently live in Buda, how much they earn, how much they currently pay in mortgage or rent payments and what they want to see in Buda as far as housing options go.
According to Sparks, the rapid growth in the area caused the need for the citizen survey to determine what the residents of Buda want to see in their community. He said the survey would act as a guidebook for developers and affordable housing projects to refer to when deciding what housing structures to erect in Buda.
“Part of the idea of this plan is that when we get approached by these types of projects, we actually have something that we can point them towards,” Sparks said.
The Housing Action Plan came with the stipulation of having a citizen advisory committee, that would assess the housing needs of current and future Buda residents from all sides of the market, including young adults, retirees, professionals and business owners.
“There is a strong desire in the community (Buda) for more restaurants, entertainment, etc. However, many of those jobs do not pay wages capable of supporting rent costs in Buda,” Sparks said.
As far as affordable housing plans for Buda, Sparks stressed the importance of looking beyond the two federally funded affordable housing plans in existence to the overall needs of residents looking for more affordable options in Buda.
Sparks said there is a “missing-middle” in the current housing being built, where today’s consumers have to choose between single family housing or large-scale apartment complexes. From the 1950s to the 1980s, there were “all kinds of housing structures like fourplexes, town homes, duplexes, condos, garage apartments, etc to offer consumers more affordable options,” Sparks said.
Sparks also said that the city is trying to plan for the future residents and the future landscape of Buda.
“This is not a project with the end in mind, it’s more of a long-term plan not a short-term solution,” Sparks said.
The Housing Action Plan and Citizen Advisory Committee will be reviewing housing options throughout the city of Buda on a continuous basis and offering their recommendations to city council on related matters.
“We want to make it possible for a person who wants to live in Buda their whole life to be able to afford it, no matter what their income level,” Sparks said.