The city of Austin is kicking off its latest task force to tackle gentrification with a public forum Saturday, which proponents hope will offer more substantial action to combat the displacement of minorities than previous efforts.
The latest effort is the city’s new Anti-Displacement Task Force, a 17-member group of appointees who will have until October to deliver action items to the City Council.
The city has a long history of creating task forces and resolutions to address the systematic racism that has plagued the city and which many believe is now contributing to gentrification in East Austin.
Since 2000, the city has created 541 recommendations and resolutions related to gentrification and displacement, according to a recent city audit. Of those, 133 were found to be actionable items related to displacement, and 56 have been reported as implemented, the audit said.
“There have been numerous task forces, there have been numerous resolutions and recommendations, and yet we find in our community that as our economy continues to grow, the problem with displacement and gentrification is not getting better,” Mayor Steve Adler said. “It is getting worse. The challenges continue to grow.”
While the city has struggled to slow down the redevelopment of East Austin and other minority strongholds, officials are placing their hopes on this group to come back with solutions in October.
“We must come up with concrete action items that the city can pursue along with appropriate funding mechanisms to finance each initiative we propose,” said Nefertitti Jackmon, the vice chair of the task force and the executive director of the nonprofit Six Square. “We do not have the luxury of waiting.”
The task force will work in conjunction with University of Texas professors who are also studying gentrification and displacement in Austin.
The group will return to the Austin City Council with a preliminary report in April.