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Proposition 15 puts focus on affordable housing in Austin

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TWC News: Proposition 15 puts focus on affordable housing in Austin
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Austin resident Kelly Sibson has a little more bounce in her step these days. She finally lives in an apartment she can afford after years of scraping by.

"It ate up all of my disability money, except for about $200,” she said. “Then I had to work a part-time job, which I could barely hang on to because of my disability."

Sibson says a winter coat and comfortable pair of shoes were luxury items that were once out of reach. The items are still a novelty now, but she says she can manage her budget.

She is one of thousands of Austinites who rely on affordable housing to make ends meet.

Still, Frank Fernandez with the nonprofit Green Doors says 11,000 Austinites have been homeless for some period of time this year alone.

"Then there are even more people who are one paycheck away, one sickness away, one bad luck incident happening from being homeless," he said.

If voters pass the Proposition 15 this election, it will set aside $78.3 million in property taxes to be used to help those like Sibson live in affordable housing.

Another portion will go toward building permanent supportive housing for those who require long-term assistance. Even home owners stand to benefit if they live in substandard or hazardous conditions.

"Once you give them the tools, people will claim it for themselves and they will take control of their own lives and do great things with that," Fernandez said.

For now, Sibson is grateful to have a budget with some wiggle room.

"Not every weekend and not even once a month,” she said. “But every couple months, I can go and do something fun."

Click here to see all of the propositions up for vote Nov. 6.

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