DALLAS – Austin, Texas, voters would decide in November on $65 million of general obligation bonds for affordable housing projects under a proposal from three city council members.
The city council will consider a resolution Thursday directing City Manager Marc Ott to prepare an ordinance setting a Nov. 5 election on up to $65 million of GO bonds.
The council will discuss the election ordinance Aug. 8. The election must be called by Aug. 26.
Austin voters approved $55 million of GO bonds in 2006 for affordable housing but narrowly rejected a similar $78.3 million request in November 2012.
The 2012 referendum failed with 48.6% in favor. It was the only one of the seven bond measures totaling $358 million on that ballot to fail.
The resolution stipulates that the ballot language for the 2013 election be based on the 2006 referendum request.
The council adopted a resolution in January to study a future bond request for affordable housing without exceeding the current property tax rate for debt service of 12.08 cents per $100 of assessed value. The city said it July it could issue up to $65 million of new GO debt for the housing effort at that tax rate.
Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole, one of the sponsors of the election resolution, said voters did not understand the 2012 request.
“What we intend to do differently is have ballot language that is clearer,” Cole said. “We have a much-needed funding gap in housing for our seniors, veterans, women, children, and the chronically homeless.”
Proceeds from the affordable housing bonds would be used to build, buy, or renovate housing for low-income residents.
The 2006 bonds leveraged $196.2 million of additional funding from private and federal sources, the city said, and supported the construction of more than 3,400 houses and apartments.
A 2009 study found the need for 40,000 housing units in Austin that could be rented or owned by low-income residents. The average monthly rent for a residence in the city is $1,000.
The 2012 bonds would have funded construction of approximately 3,500 units.
Austin’s GO bonds are rated triple-A by all three agencies.