At a special session on Austin's Land Use Code Revision, Central Texas Interfaith leaders called attention to real-time displacement happening in Northeast Austin and potential revisions in the land use code to prevent the displacement of hundreds of mobile home residents and precariously housed low-income families. Congregational leaders stood with mobile home park residents facing eviction as they delivered testimony in support of interventions to better protect residents.
In reference to gentrification and the displacement of low-income and people of color from Austin, CTI leader David Guarino "kicked off what would be a full day of public testimony with what he called the 'profound question.'
'Is the Austin we’re becoming truly the city we want to be?'”
Testimony by him and Francisco Martinez of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic called on the City of Austin to do better.
Testimony by David Guarino, All Saints Episcopal [video]
Testimony by Francisco Martinez, Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic [video]
Last July, Hidden Valley / High Meadows (mobile home) residents became distressed when lot rents for people on month-to-month leases were raised for the second time within a 12-month period. New rules mandated improvements and standardizations — adding new costs to residents — including deck and railing upgrades, paint jobs, skirting repair, shed standardization, color control and control over inside window coverings visible from the street. Families were also asked to demonstrate possession of a drivers' license to drive on the property, impacting hundreds of residents. Many families scrambled to comply; some left.
Residents reached out to Austin Interfaith and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) for support and within two months founded their association (Hidden Valley / High Meadows Residents' Association) and signed up over 200 households as members.
On December 10, the HVHMRA signed a historic accord with their landlord, Scott Roberts of Roberts Communities, locking in many protections, including the:
- Right to organize residents' associations that represent the interests of mobile home park residents.
- First rent control concession in a mobile home park of Austin, locking in no more than 5% increases through 2017 and rent increase caps in subsequent years.
- Protections for undocumented immigrant residents.
Minutes before the item came up for discussion, Austin Interfaith leaders shepherded the signing of this agreement between HVHMRA officers and landlord Scott Roberts.
Through the establishment of a 'mobile home regime', or framework for landlord-resident relations, this important victory sets an unprecedented standard, ensuring that land use decisions on mobile home parks protect the quality of life for existing residents.
Mobile Home Community Says Affordability Agreement Will Provide New Protection, KXAN
City Council: Keep 'Em Waiting, Austin Chronicle