This Thursday, our city council members are poised to do something unbelievable. If they accept the municipal staff’s recommendations, they will award two affordable-housing projects to a pair of arts groups that have no experience in the field. If they do so, they will be passing over East Austin’s Guadalupe Neighborhood Development Corporation (GNDC), which has a rich, 40-year history of providing housing and fighting displacement in the communities of color where these projects are located.
We urge you to contact Mayor Steve Adler and your city council representative today. Tell them to vote against the staff’s recommendations on Consent Items 1 and 2 on the September 17th agenda.
These proposals would authorize negotiation and execution of agreements for affordable housing at 900 Gardner Road (6 acres) and 1127 Tillery Street (5.15 acres). In a surprising September 11th letter, city staffers recommended choosing land-development partnerships DMA/Big Medium for the Gardner project and MRE Capital/Imagine Art for the Tillery Project. (See the staff’s score sheets here and here.)
Big Medium is the arts group that produces the East and West Austin Studio Tours, which was started in 2007 by members of the Anglo arts community who moved into East Austin, near Bolm Road. Imagine Art is a Christian ministry established in 1996 to empower artists with disabilities. The groups’ partners are: MRE capital, a multi-state real-estate developer, and DMA properties, a boutique real estate firm that specializes in mixed-income, mixed-use communities.
Neither of these arts groups mention in their mission statements any experience in developing affordable housing or fighting against displacement in communities of color—and the city’s staff is apparently unaware of the well-documented role that the art community has played in gentrification. As the Govalle/Johnston Neighborhood Planning team told the City of Austin:
Your choice of white-led arts groups for housing, who have no experience in the housing market, over G.N.D.C., who is rooted in and from this community, and the fact that Imagine Art and Big Medium are actively participating in this element of gentrification, is unacceptable to us.
Please reach out to Mayor Steve Adler and your city council member using the contact information below and tell them not to pass these recommendations on consent. Tell them to rethink the issue—and to consider the GNDC, which has a proven record of creating affordable housing in these neighborhoods. Check this map if you aren’t sure which council member represents you.
Together we can build an Austin for everyone!
You may send a single email to the mayor and all council members using this form.