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  • Daniel Webster

Austin-area school district working to find affordable housing for employees

The Eanes Independent School District in Austin is working with a nonprofit to find lower-cost housing solutions for district employees. 

 

The district of about 7,800 students on the west side of Austin is the latest in the rapidly growing and increasingly expensive area to pursue housing options for its educators. The Eanes school district serves the Westlake area, an affluent section of metro Austin that includes the towns of Rollingwood and West Lake Hills. The district operates nine campuses, including Westlake High School

 

Eanes ISD’s board of trustees approved an agreement this month to partner with the Texas Workforce Housing Foundation, authorizing the organization to provide housing developments inside the district “for the benefit of the district’s workforce.” Under the agreement, the district’s superintendent will work with the foundation, but there are no commitments of any specific projects or timelines.

 

“While there are no guarantees, every effort will be made to secure existing or future housing options that could be more affordable for the Eanes ISD workforce,” the district said in a summary of the meeting. 

 

The agreement “offers potential to identify actual and affordable workforce housing options to benefit Eanes ISD employees and other public servants of our school district and local community,” the district said in board agenda documents

The district said the cost of housing in the Austin metro area and within the district specifically “leads to added lifestyle stress and commute times for employees.”

 

According to Eanes ISD’s spring 2022 demographic report, housing prices in the district have soared. In 2021, the average sale price for an existing home in the district was $1.4 million, while the average price for a new home was $1.6 million, more than double the average prices in 2010. Rental prices have also climbed, reaching more than $1,900 per month in December 2021, the report said.

 

The median home price for the Austin metro area as a whole was $424,450 in November, according to the Austin Board of Realtors. Within Austin’s city limits, the median sale price was $518,000, while the median price for all of Travis County was $510,000, according to the Austin Board of Realtors.

 

Other school districts in the region are also pursuing housing for employees to address similar concerns about affordability. In 2022, Pflugerville ISD voters approved $43.9 million in bonds “for the purchase of land, design and construction of affordable teacher housing.”

 

Austin ISD is developing housing on an 18-acre district property, the Anita Ferrales Coy Facility, which also houses the district’s Alternative Learning Center. In November, the district approved an agreement with NRP Group for the project, which is intended to “deliver high quality housing that is affordable for new and experienced teachers, district staff and families,” to support recruitment and retention of employees.

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