Project Connect is the City of Austin’s multi-billion-dollar transportation system upgrade, which includes light rail lines, a downtown subway, an expanded bus system, park and rides, and an all-electric fleet. $300 million of the project’s total budget is allocated to anti-displacement initiatives over the next 13 years.

The City’s Housing and Planning Department is tasked with developing and leading programming and outreach to prevent the displacement of vulnerable communities. Investments will focus on preventing displacement in vulnerable areas near transit lines. Recently, the City allocated $20 million to local nonprofits to assist communities at risk of being displaced due to Project Connect. El Buen was awarded $2 million for this initiative.

El Buen’s anti-displacement program We Belong Here advances anti-racist strategies in solidarity with BIPOC generations. Funds will assist tenants with rent/cash/utility, provide workforce and asset-building, implement cradle-career education in collaboration with community partners, and strengthen cultural anchor capacity.

To stop the disproportionate negative impact of anti-racist policies and create a city where we ALL thrive and belong, El Buen plans to advance a comprehensive multi-partnership plan to alleviate immediate displacement and create long-term wealth building strategies throughout the Project Connect (PC) displacement areas and the Austin Eastern Crescent (EC).

El Buen will utilize the displacement funds to supplement our existing efforts in multiple areas—our proposed priorities will narrow disparities in housing, education, income, and access to health and food:

  1. We will serve more than 5,200 families which we have assisted with rent/financial assistance throughout the pandemic – 90% of these households will continue to need some level of immediate financial/rent assistance to prevent displacement. We will address housing disparities by providing funding for:
    ∙ Displacement prevention (rent/financial/utility assistance)
    ∙ Eviction Mediation, Settlement, Referral to Legal Representation
    ∙ Relocation logistics (moving, storage, affordable housing search)
    ∙ Navigation & connection to support services and information on protections, eviction prevention, tenant rights
  2. We will strengthen our current education/workforce efforts and create cultural anchor partnerships to establish multiple seamless pathways to education and workforce, contributing to the economic advancement of BIPOC/Latinos.
  3. We will improve and expand our youth and family-friendly spaces on campus.
  4. We will reinforce BIPOC-led cultural anchors serving the Project Connect and Austin Eastern Crescent communities and build a network of partnerships to collectively uproot the causes of displacement. El Buen uses Arc GIS mapping software to determine if a resident’s address falls within the Project Connect displacement risk area. We will be publishing a public web-based tool where potential clients can check their own address against the Project Connect displacement risk area boundary produced by the City of Austin.

You can read the full KXAN article on Project Connect anti-displacement initiatives here: https://www.kxan.com/news/local/austin/20m-going-to-nonprofits-for-project-connect-anti-displacement-efforts-what-will-that-look-like/