Elgin-based Frontier Bank of Texas is helping stabilize housing expenses for moderate- and middle-income families in the Austin area. The Central Texas community bank is investing $1 million in the Residency Support Fund of the Austin Housing Conservancy (AHC), a group at the forefront of addressing Austin’s workforce affordability crisis.
“We are fully committed to the conservancy and what it is accomplishing for local families and individuals,” says Patrick Johnson, Frontier Bank of Texas CEO. “Without its support, we risk continuing to lose teachers, nurses, first-responders and many more salaried professionals because the Austin housing market is pricing them out of an affordable place to live.”
Frontier Bank of Texas and those supporting the work of the conservancy see the organization as a vital partner in keeping quality salaried professionals in the workforce. According to AHC, the annual income required to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Austin is estimated at $64,000. In comparison, an entry-level educator earns about $51,000, a policeman and licensed professional nurse about $57,000 and a plumber approximately $57,000. As more affordable rental properties are removed from the landscape, the gap between income and living expenses grows wider.
In an effort to preserve affordable housing options, AHC invests in those fast-disappearing multifamily properties and offers them as rental options to moderate- and middle-income families and individuals. It is a direct investment in workers who don’t have access to assistance programs currently available to low-income residents. Over time, the affordable rental rates increase proportionally with a growth in wages.
“We are facing a challenge that needs to be addressed for the long haul,” says Kirk Watson, Frontier Bank of Texas chairman. “If we don’t meet it head-on now, we will wind up like so many major metropolitan areas across the country that have priced core workers out of the city.”
To date, the Austin Housing Conservancy Fund has invested $123 million in four properties, including The Preserve at Wells Branch, The Bridge at Northwest Hills, The Bridge at Terracina and Melrose Trail Apartments. In total, the properties are comprised of 1,000 units and serve 1,500 Austin residents. Investment by partners such as Frontier Bank enables AHC to acquire more such properties before they become a part of the city’s history.
Established in 2007, Frontier Bank of Texas operates locations in Elgin, Bastrop, Manor, Austin, Leander, Buda and Round Rock.