The City of Austin may provide developers with incentives—such as fee waivers, density bonuses, tax incentives, and development agreements—to build and to set aside affordable rental and ownership housing for low- and moderate-income households in developments.
S.M.A.R.T. Housing is designed to stimulate the production of affordable housing for residents of Austin that is Safe, Mixed-Income, Accessible, Reasonably Priced, and Transit-Oriented (i.e., S.M.A.R.T.) and compliant with the City of Austin’s, Austin Energy Green Building standards. Eligible S.M.A.R.T. Housing projects may receive development fee waivers if the development, at a minimum, meets the following:
- Provide mixed-income housing by including dwelling units that are affordable for the required affordability period;
- Provide for accessibility in a development of more than three dwelling units by providing at least 10 percent of the dwelling units that comply with the accessibility requirements of the City’s building code;
- Provide for visitability (a measure of a place's ease of access for people with disabilities) in a development with three or fewer dwellings
- Be located within one-half mile walking distance of a local public transit route at the time of application; and,
- Achieve at least a one star rating under the Austin Green Building Program.
Application for S.M.A.R.T. Housing
The community benefits of S.M.A.R.T. Housing include: reasonably priced units, higher accessibility standards for persons with disabilities, and housing located close to transit. For more information on the S.M.A.R.T. Housing Program, email Nathan Jones, Project Coordinator. NOTE: If you are looking for rental housing, please visit the Resources for Renters website.
Density Bonuses allow developers to build more units than are allowed by a site’s base zoning if the developer agrees to set aside a portion of units for income-restricted affordable housing or in some cases pay a fee-in-lieu of providing affordable housing. The affordable housing units must be income restricted and leased or sold to a low or moderate income household for the required affordability period. Examples include the Downtown Density Bonus, University Neighborhood Overlay (UNO), Transit Oriented Development, East Riverside Corridor, and North Burnet Gateway Density Bonus.
- Download the Downtown Density Bonus Program Fee Calibration Model used for the 2021 recalibration here (Excel workbook)
- Learn more about the Downtown Density Bonus Program affordable housing fee in lieu calibration tool in this memo from economic consultants, EcoNorthwest (PDF)
Development Incentive Programs
Affordability is also promoted through Development Agreements which may produce affordable units and/or fees-in-lieu.
Affordability Unlocked is a development bonus program that waives or modifies some development restrictions in exchange for providing low- and moderate-income housing. The program is designed to increase the number of affordable housing units being developed in Austin and fully leverage public resources by allowing housing providers to build more units in their developments when significant amounts of affordable housing are included. In return for setting aside half of a development’s total units as affordable, bonuses include height and density increases, parking and compatibility waivers, and reductions in minimum lot sizes.
Monitoring and Compliance Guidelines and Documents:
- University Neighborhood Overlay (UNO): Income Determination, Rents, Compliance & Monitoring Guidelines (PDF)
- Development Incentives and Agreements: Income Determination, Rents, Compliance & Monitoring Guidelines (PDF)
- All Development Incentive Programs: Income Verification Forms (XLSM)
- UNO Rent Rates (PDF)
- Development Incentive Rent Rates (PDF)
- Development Agreements Rent Rates (PDF)
- Development Incentives Sales Prices (PDF)