Austin, Texas is one of the nation's fastest-gentrifying cities as the rapid influx of affluent millennials pushes out low-income residents. Parts of Autin that were once lined with mobile home parks and industrial yards have become modern apartment buildings and trendy restaurants, according to NYTimes.
The working poor of Austin, many of which reside in Black and Latino neighborhoods, find themselves in a rapidly changing city impacted by gentrification. Younger generations have been pouring into Austin over the last decade, supercharged in the last few years as large technology companies expand operations in the metro area.
A decade ago, Austin was one of the most affordable places to live in the country and a liberal oasis. Now it's become one of the least affordable areas. On average, 180 new people were moving to the city every day during the pandemic as housing inventory was historically low. This combination ignited home prices, hitting a record of $536,000 in October, up from about $441,250 a year ago. Prices are more than doubled since 2011.
Soaring home prices, rising property taxes, and redevelopment projects have unleashed gentrification in more than 35 neighborhoods, and another 23 are at risk, according to a 2018 study by the University of Texas.
"We knew it was coming," said Francisco Nuñez, who lived in a Cactus Rose Mobile Home Park trailer for over two decades. He said the trailer park was sold to a developer to make way for new apartments that cost double his rent. This trend is happening all over the city and pushing the working poor further and further outside city limits.
Working poor are not happy with gentrification.
Much of the gentrification has been due to an exodus of people from California and Northeast states, attracted by new jobs and the economic prosperity of a thriving city due to Apple, Amazon, IBM, AT&T, Tesla, and Samsung opening new campuses or expanding operations.
The flurry of high-paying tech jobs in the city has unleashed inflationary forces on the metro area, boosting the cost of living from one of the cheapest in the US to the most expensive in under a decade. Rob Gordon, the manager and real estate agent with the realty company, JBGoodwin, said the city expanded by 160,000 people in the last decade.
Gordon said that the neighborhood of Northwest Hills, about 20 minutes from downtown, saw a large buying wave this spring, with 18 of the 19 homes bought over the list price. He said one home was listed for $975k and sold for $1.395 million.
For as liberal as Austin is, one would suspect an uproar from local politicians amid the gentrification crisis in the city.