East Austinites, City officials recognize need for seniors' affordable housing at groundbreaking

September 26, 2009

Mayor Lee Leffingwell joined East Austin residents and members of the Chestnut Neighborhood Revitalization Corporation(CNRC) at a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009, to signal the upcoming construction of the Franklin Gardens Senior Housing, a rental housing facility for low-income elderly persons. The ceremony was at the facility’s future site – 1.02 acres at the northwest corner of East Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and E. M. Franklin Avenue.

“Like most cities across the county, Austin has a growing need for affordable housing options for seniors, many of whom are unable to afford market-rate rent or access publicly-subsidized rentals,” said Mayor Lee Leffingwell. “The City must rely on non-profits and private developers to help respond to this need so Austin seniors can live independently and enjoy the quality of life they deserve after a lifetime of hard work."

CNRC President Sean Garretson is a market analyst and land strategist and was involved in identifying the initial market need. “We commissioned a market study in 2007 that clearly showed the most critical affordable housing need in ZIP code 78702 was for seniors. Our diverse and astute board set a goal to build this senior housing project and we are elated that we are finally breaking ground on such an important project to our East Austin senior residents.”

Franklin Gardens Senior Housing will consist of 21 one-bedroom units measuring 540 square feet in size for low-income elderly households, and one two-bedroom manager’s unit measuring 800 square feet in size. The project is designed as four, two-story buildings with connecting walkways on upper and lower floors served by an elevator.

The facility will include a community room, a television lounge and library, an administrative office and an outer garden area. At least two units will be made accessible for persons with mobility disabilities and one unit for persons with hearing and vision disabilities. Residency in the 21 units will be limited to persons 62 years of age or older with yearly household incomes of no more than $25,650 for a one-person household, and $29,300 for a two-member household – 50 percent of the area’s Median Family Income (MFI). Individuals interested in reserving a unit should contact franklingardens@gmail.com .

The property was City of Austin surplus property that was transferred to the Austin Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) for the development of affordable housing. To facilitate its development, the AHFC issued a Request for Proposals in April 2007 for $1 million in General Obligation Bonds. AHFC also will administer a long-term ground lease with the CNRC for the development of the proposed facility. The ground lease ensures AHFC retains control of land and reduces property taxes owed by the development since the land owned by the government is exempt.

 “This will be one of the best senior affordable housing projects in Central Texas. We assembled a great team of architects and sustainability and affordable housing consultants to create a very green, very livable community. Hatch and Associates, S2A, Diana McIver and Associates, Stanley Architects, and Bailey Elliot have been an amazing team,” said Garretson. “Although we have $3 million to build this project, we have every intention of seeking additional contributions to achieve our green building standards as well as community amenities.”

CNRC received $2 million from the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the form of a Section 202 grant, which will include monthly rent subsidies to make the units very affordable for elderly families. Section 202 is HUD’s only affordable housing program dedicated to seniors. CNRC also received a grant from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. Tenants with Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8) will be accepted.


CNRC is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization certified by the City of Austin as a Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO). The CNRC was established in 1998 to provide affordable housing and services to low-income families and has since developed affordable single-family housing in the Chestnut Neighborhood. The Franklin Gardens project is supported by the Chestnut Addition Neighborhood Association, and the J. J. Seabrook Neighborhood Association.

For more information about this project including information about reserving a unit, contact Sarah Andre at franklingardens@gmail.com. Information about City of Austin programs to promote affordable housing is available at www.cityofaustin.org/housing.


Sarah Andre, S2A Development Consulting. L.L.C.
Rebecca Giello, Neighborhood Housing and Community Development, 974.3045