After the commissioning of an affordable housing study released earlier this year showed that around 70% of New Braunfels’ workforce is unable to afford living in city limits, city staff and the New Braunfels City Council are working to find solutions.
Seeking input, City Manager Robert Camareno went before the city council last week opening the discussion on New Braunfels’ workforce housing and on how best to create a workforce housing task force. Taking suggestions into account, Camareno will go before council as soon as the end of this month with a more formal agenda item for approval.
“The study identified a total demand for ‘for sale’ units of 2,878 affordable units at various income ranges, and 5,375 rental units — again, at various income ranges,” Camareno said. “Staff is requesting that the council provide some policy direction.”
Camareno brought forward a list of potential groups that could have a representative on the task force, which he said will have open public meetings for anyone to attend.
“These are just suggested makeup and goal suggestions,” he said.
Suggested organizations to select a member were: the Community Development Advisory Committee, the Four Rivers Association of Builders, the Greater New Braunfels Homebuilders Association, the Local Banking Industry, the McKenna Foundation, the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce, the New Braunfels Economic Development Corporation (4B board), the Housing Authority, New Braunfels Utilities, the planning commission, a local provider such as Habitat for Humanity and/or NB Housing Partners, and two at-large members.
Possible goals were: To review the results and the recommendations of the workforce housing study and propose strategies to address those; to review the city’s current policies or ordinances that impact workforce housing and recommend code or policy amendments; to research innovative approaches to workforce housing from other communities; to research new and innovative types of housing that are not traditional to New Braunfels but might provide opportunities for workforce housing expansion; and to inform and educate the community on what is workforce housing is and the need that exists.
“That’s probably one of the most important items, is to educate our community, is what is workforce housing? What does it really mean? And what’s the need in this community?” Camareno said.
Mayor Pro Tem Wayne Peters thanked Camareno for his work on the lists and said this is a big problem in the community.
“I think this task force is going to have to be ongoing,” added District 6 Councilmember Leah Garcia. “This is a huge problem it’s just going to get worse as we keep growing and the cost of housing keeps going up.”
It’s important to get a good cross section from the community to weigh in on this issue because of how large an issue workforce housing has become in New Braunfels, said District 2 Councilmember Justin Meadows.
“Having a broader cross section, that will help us get more buy-in, reach more people, educate better,” Meadows said.
Members of the community also gave input, thanking the city for taking action to create a workforce housing task force and suggesting different organizations to have a committee member.
“I don’t even know if there’s a wrong way to do this because we’re getting started,” said Meadows.