Now that Project Connect has been approved at the polls, Austinites must hold Mayor Steve Adler and the rest of our city council to their self-labeled “Proposition A Contract With Voters.” They unanimously passed the contract as Resolution No. 20200807-003 before putting Project Connect on the ballot.
With this resolution, the council committed that Project Connect would be a transportation program, not a redevelopment and displacement scheme. But our mayor and a majority of the council are backed by developers and land speculators, so Austinites must remain engaged and vigilant. We cannot allow slippery politicians to covertly transform the plan into the next CodeNEXT and push middle- and low-income Austin residents from their homes.
The council’s contract with voters states that Project Connect is “a high-capacity transit system, to address the City’s transit needs for safer, faster, and more reliable transportation that will improve access to essential services.” It expressly forbids local officials from using it as a displacement tool: “[T]he policy of the City is to proactively assess displacement impacts of transportation projects”, and “it is important we work with our partners, develop strategies, and utilize tools to support current neighborhood residents and businesses, stopping or limiting their displacement.” The contract repeated this anti-displacement commitment later in the resolution, promising “transit-supportive anti-displacement strategies for the purpose of preventing displacement and encouraging transit-oriented affordable housing along Project Connect transit corridors.”
As part of their contract, our mayor and council also committed $300 million to the “preservation, repair, and rehabilitation of existing affordable housing,” along with financial assistance for home ownership, home repairs, and rental subsidies.
To accomplish these goals, the council vowed “unprecedented collaboration between the community, the City, and Capital Metro.”
Unprecedented collaboration with the community entails complete transparency. Officials must be trustworthy and honor commitments to the citizens. Project Connect must be implemented as advertised, without displacing existing residents. It’s supposed to move Austinites around, not move them out.
Let’s make sure the mayor and council keep their commitments. Let’s make sure that Project Connect’s “anti-displacement” funding goes to residents who want to stay in their neighborhoods—not to developers eager to replace their homes with housing that’s affordable in name only. Above all, let’s make sure the plan isn’t the next CodeNEXT in disguise.
Together we can build an Austin for everyone!