There is a crisis at multi-family properties across Austin where lower-income tenants are forced to live in dangerous conditions and too often tenants do not know their rights, and do not have a trusting relationship with the City. District 4 neighborhood groups like Stonegate Residents’ Association and Asociación de Residentes de North Lamar show that we see the best results for our community when neighbors are empowered to advocate for themselves.
Read Casar's entire newsletter, including info about Residents Advocacy Project and Updates on District 4 Traffic Priorities by clicking read more.
I’m e-mailing you during a critical time at City Hall, with less than two weeks to go before next year’s budget is fully crafted and adopted by the Council.
In this budget, my priorities are maintaining high-quality City services and ensuring that more people can share in Austin’s prosperity. Some good news: the funding proposal I authored earlier this year for $740,000 in rental assistance was incorporated as a part of this proposed budget. However, many of our office’s other budget priorities are still being debated, and their fate will be decided during budget hearings on September 8, 9, and 10. These priorities include providing the City’s temporary employees a decent wage and healthcare, expanding funding for health services, providing more internship and after-school programming for our youth, and bringing more parks to North Austin. You can still share your thoughts with Council by e-mail or phone. Please let us know what’s important to you!
Residents Advocacy Project: a Proposal to Empower Tenants and Improve the City’s Response to Dangerous Properties
At yesterday’s budget meeting, I introduced the Residents Advocacy Project, a two-fold initiative for education and outreach to empower tenants to better understand their rights and the remedies available to them, and also to empower our City’s Law Department and Code Department to pursue litigation to address dangerous rental properties and persistently non-compliant short-term rental operators. The Residents Advocacy Project is a budget-neutral proposal that would utilize $350,000 from the proposed budget of the Austin Code Department for a contract with a nonprofit legal organization to perform outreach and education to the residents living in substandard building conditions and support our department’s nuisance abatement efforts.
There is a crisis at multi-family properties across Austin where lower-income tenants are forced to live in dangerous conditions and too often tenants do not know their rights, and do not have a trusting relationship with the City. District 4 neighborhood groups like Stonegate Residents’ Association and Asociación de Residentes de North Lamar show that we see the best results for our community when neighbors are empowered to advocate for themselves. This proposal provides a range of resources necessary so our City departments are better supported to address the needs of our neighborhoods. Special thanks to NACA President Randy Teich and longtime community advocate Ruby Roa for speaking at our press conference yesterday!
Fair Chance Comment Period Open – Share Your Thoughts!
I authored a resolution in May, approved by Council, to begin the process of developing a citywide policy to delay inquiries into conviction history by employers across Austin. KEYE news produced a great piece about this initiative, and highlighted employers like Hoover’s Cooking who already have their own Fair Chance policy. Watch the story and see how these policies strengthen our communities by offering protections to people who are often discriminated against in employment. The policy will be heard by the Economic Opportunity Committee this Fall and will be voted on by the full City Council later on this year.
Reviewing District 4 Traffic Priorities for Upcoming Funding Opportunities
Through Council resolution, additional funding was approved to support neighborhood-scale transportation improvements across the ten City Council districts. My office is surveying constituents to hear about where funding should be allocated, and I hope you’ll provide insight on what you’d like to see improved! Please send an email to Kara.Sheehan@austintexas.gov to share which smaller scale, neighborhood-level transportation projects would most benefit our community.
Upcoming Office Hours and Stay in Touch!
My next set of office hours will be on Friday, September 4 from 1pm to 3pm at the Windsor Park Library at 5833 Westminster Drive. Please contact my Communications Director Shelby Alexander at 512-978-2157 if you would like to set up a 20 minute appointment. As always, my office and I are available at512-978-2104. If you need to reach me immediately please shoot me an email atGreg.Casar@austintexas.gov. I want to hear from you!
P.S. The photo above is from a few weeks ago when I got a one-of-a-kind policy briefing―from a group of 20 middle school students! Five groups of young people from Fulmore Middle School’s dual language program participated in a three-week camp this summer on public citizenship. They presented a final report in English and Spanish to Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo and me on five important topics: disproportionate police stops and searches of people of color, food insecurity, drugs in schools, bullying and school dress code. The students researched current policies and proposed their own solutions for the City Council and school board.