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cept or a new struggle. In the 1930’s, a major impetus to organizing was housing access denied to blacks and rural whites who migrated North in search of jobs. In the 1950’s and 60’s, civil rights activities often centered on open housing for black people. The two major concerns that Federal commissions found underlying the urban riots of the 60’s were lack of jobs and housing. When the black civil rights movement broke the “right to discriminate” barrier and won legal protection for housing access, cities and counties across the country began responding to other groups that needed protection: women, students, disabled people, non-marrieds, families, lesbians and gays, and religious groups. In 1976, Austin passed a Fair Housing Ordinance, but it did not include a number of categories of protection \(for sexual preference, parenthood, marital the AAA and fundamentalist groups. Conservative majorities on the 1977 and 1979 Councils made expansion of the ordinance impossible. With a shift to the left in the balance of power on the council this May, fair housing advocates renewed their efforts to expand the ordinance. Since the original ordinance was passed, equal acess to housing has become a critical issue as the Austin growth rate combined with a recessionplagued construction industry of rental housing at between 2 percent and 5 percent. Less than 5 percent is generally considered an emergency situation, and has spawned rent control movements in cities in California, New Jersey, Maryland, New York, Alaska, and in Washington D.C. In a tight housing market, opportunities for abuse increase. A 1978 study of 200 randomly selected apartment complexes found that 82 percent restricted children of some age and 48 percent refused children outright. Studies in Dallas, Atlanta and several California cities have found that, when children are denied access to a significant portion of housing, families are forced into overcrowded, substandard units, or must pay higher prices than they can afford for the few “nice apartments” that accept children. Gays and lesbians, as well as unmarried heterosexual couples, must rely on their landlord’s good graces. According to the Austin Tenants Council, there are heterosexuals of the same sex who are denied housing because they wish to save money by sharing a bedroom. Older adults are also unprotected. If an owner believes that he/she can charge higher rates to a “swinging singles” clientele, retired people can be legally evicted in 30 days or at the end of their lease. The AAA claims the right to segment the market to allow people with the same demographic characteristics to ghettoize themselves. In fact, singles complexes are the most popular type of complex, and higher rates can be charged by offering tenants the tantalizing thought of a complex full of potential sexual partners. But when the right of a swinging single to live next to another swinging single is compared to the right of a child to have a roof over her head, or to the right not to be evicted because of being gay, the property rights of a landlord turn out to be mean-spirited bigotry. The question of property rights is a tricky one, because those rights are constantly evolving and changing. In the Constitution, blacks were considered property, 3/5 of their value to be taxable. That changed after the Civil War. Until the turn of the Century, women could not own property; property rights were for men only. The law changes, generally, as a result of mass pressure and over the objections of those who scream about their own inalienable property rights. But the problem underlying housing access is the lack of sufficient affordable housing. In 1968, the U.S. Congress determined that a minimum of 26 million units needed to be built in the 1970’s: 2.6 million per year. The housing industry has not, with the exception of two months in 1971, been able to produce housing at that rate. Every year, we have fallen further behind our needs, cumulatively building up the housing shortage. According to numerous national publications, the U.S. is presently in a housing depression, producing only one million units a year, less than 40 percent of the annual housing need which was estimated eleven years ago. High interest and high inflation rates are to the housing construction industry what James Watt is to the environment. Banks and savings & loans look for shorter-term loans, where there is a higher and faster return on investments. That eliminates most 20and 30-year mortgages. Construction firms make more profit on high-rise office buildings, shopping malls and commercial construction than on homes. The housing that is being built is increasingly for upper-income buyers. The average price tag for a new home is almost $80,000. The federal government estimates that only 15 percent of U.S. families can afford that figure. This has resulted in greater demand for rental housing. But the same credit and inflation crunch cramping single family home construction is also slowing rental construction, except for the upper income market. It’s no mystery then, why most apartments being built in Austin are in the Northwest and Southwest, appealing to luxury-seeking professionals. The only new multi-unit housing being built in the central city are condominiums, ranging from tiny efficiencies for $40,000 to the luxury models for Vacancy rates, especially in Sunbelt cities, are chronically low. Austin, Dallas, and Houston have fluctuated at between 1 percent and 5 percent over the last three years. Low vacancy rates and high demand create a sellers’ market, and landlords have not been slow to take advantage. Rents in Austin, according to an American Statesman review of realtor firm reports, have risen 15 percent to 25 percent annually for the past three years, depending on the neighborhood. Some areas, such as Hyde Park, Clarksville, and Travis Heights, are suffering rent increases over twice the inflation rate. The overall housing picture in Austin is that of an increasing majority of citizens shut out of homeownership and faced with few choices of affordable rental housing. In such a situation, to defend the landlords’ “inalienable right” to further deny parents, gays, older people or non-marrieds access to housing amounts to pouring oil on a fire. The first step in extinguishing this runaway blaze is to insure equal housing access for all. The $10 Program We invite organizations and individuals to sell new one-year Observer subscriptions. For each subscription the selling organization or individual will receive $10 commission. Like most publications, the Observer spends almost that obtaining a new subscription by mail. We prefer, however, that the money go to hard-working groups or individuals instead of to the post office and paper companies. Organizations and individuals authorized to sell subscriptions under the program will be provided with forms and sample copies. The only requirement is that individuals who wish to try this must have their own subscription paid up at the regular $20 rate. Commissions on subscriptions to be billed will be paid on receipt of the bill payment. Neither renewals nor subscriptions for a period shorter than a year receive commissions. If you want to take part in this program, contact the Observer at 600 W. 7th St., Austin, Tx. 78701, or phone 512-477-0746. No PAC’s or campaigns, please. 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