Ground Breaks on New Development for Abuse Survivors


The City of Austin Housing Department is happy to announce the groundbreaking of a new 5-story, wood-frame building that will provide 60 permanent supportive housing units for survivors of violence and abuse – making it the first of its kind in the city. It will be located at 5115 Lancaster Court in District 4, East of I-35, near 51st Street.

“We are excited to see the construction of this one-of-a-kind residence. It is certainly a welcome haven for one of the city’s most vulnerable populations,” explains Mandy DeMayo, Interim Director for the Housing Department. “We are extremely proud and honored to welcome a much-needed safe place where these survivors can find refuge and continue to heal.”

The new residence will have 12 efficiency units (516 square feet); 32 one-bedroom units (602 square feet); and 16 two-bedroom units (822 square feet). The building’s amenities or offerings will include community spaces such as support services staff offices, laundry facilities, a secure reception area, meeting rooms and an indoor resident lounge. Residents will have access to supportive services such as advocacy, case management, counseling, life skills training, education enhancement and more.

The 59,515-square foot building will be close to transit lines, jobs, schools, doctors’ offices and other community resources, including SAFE’s campus in Rathgeber Village, Mueller and Dell Children’s Medical Center. The Lancaster will serve people who are exiting homelessness and have very low income and who will not have the means to pay rent. The goal, said Julia Spann, CEO of SAFE, is to get full funding for their rent. Currently, rent is covered for 30 of the units thanks to project-based vouchers from the Housing Authority of the City of Austin (HACA), totaling more than $11 million over 20 years. Permanent housing provides housing assistance (e.g., long-term leasing or rental assistance) and supportive services to assist individuals in achieving stability.

“There aren’t similar resources in the community, so it truly fills a gap for survivors,” said Julia Spann, CEO of SAFE. “It’s so important to create an apartment community that provides the safety a survivor of violence really needs and is specifically designed to serve folks who have experienced trauma and who have kids. Without housing, survivors are forced back into dangerous situations. Housing is violence prevention.”

The new residence is a collaboration between SAFE and Capital A Housing.  

“This project shows great strides against homelessness are possible if local, state, and philanthropic partners work together,” said Conor Kenny, principal at Capital A Housing. 

Funding for The Lancaster came from a number of funding sources, including the Austin Housing Finance Corp., from which it received a $7.15 million loan through the Rental Housing Development Assistance (RHDA) program, using 2022 General Obligation (GO) Bonds. 

It also received $7.27 million in ARPA funding from Travis County, $4.27 million from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, $1 million from H-E-B, and a $850,000 Affordable Housing Program grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas via Texas Capital Bank. 

Spann says her organization is grateful to all of its funding partners “for funding the construction of this critically needed apartment community as well as the Housing Authority of City of Austin for providing critically important vouchers to cover rent for 30 units.” 

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