There are so many potential symptoms for Austin's growing affordability problem, but I think the #1 factor is this:
Austin is competing with itself.
Case in point:
Go to just about any major tech company, and they're probably actively and aggressively hiring or they have plans to in the next 3 to 6 months.
To get into tech, you probably need one of three things:
1) a hard skill like engineering typically learned at a university or a specialized program,
2) a decent amount of experience (say in software sales or online marketing),
OR 3) connections who believe in you.
When you factor in #3, no matter how many token experiences everyone will surely point to, you end up leaving out a lot of women and ethnic minorities because to have connections to the tech industry means you have connections to an industry with a lot of highly-educated white males (the historical norm and the current reality, at least at the leadership levels).
So let's look at #1 and #2.
Do women and minorities have the ability to get those hard skills?
The answer is a resounding yes. Not only because of recently-established programs like Black Girls Code and Code2040, but also because of statistics. I pulled this from a recent Forbes article which read:
"It has been a commonly held belief that the gender gap in tech is primarily a pipeline issue; that there are simply not enough girls studying math and science. Recently updated information indicates an equal number of high school girls and boys participating in STEM electives, and at Stanford and Berkeley, 50% of the introductory computer science students are women. That may be the case, but the U.S. Census Bureau reported last year that twice as many men as women with the same qualifications were working in STEM fields.
A USA Today study discloses that top universities graduate black and Hispanic computer science and computer engineering students at twice the rate that leading technology companies hire them. Although these companies state they don’t have a qualified pool of applicants, the evidence does not support that claim."
So then we get to #2, the classic chicken-and-egg problem of experience.
How do women and minorities (or working class people without hard skills or connections) get experience without experience?
And here is where we run into the problem of Austin competing with itself a bit because while the city's population is growing to meet the demand of companies like Oracle creating more jobs in Austin seemingly in step so does the affordability gap, or at least the growing potential of one.
One group of people may see value in a vibrant, growing economy where new jobs are steadily created of which many of these jobs require some semblance of tech industry experience (which the City/Chamber surely sells is already here in the workforce to companies like Oracle).
Meanwhile another side of Austin sees a steady increase in the cost of living (musicians, working class folk, the Black community that we're seeing move further North/East, etc.).
So if you don't have a tech industry salary or tech industry connections or tech industry skills or tech industry experience, how do you keep pace with Austin's growing cost of living in which a significant source of its job growth - those jobs which will highly dictate the future quality of life standards - will come?
The tech companies most likely to need to hire employees with tech industry experience and connections are small, growing companies like Localeur, where our very survival is in question and experience and connections are paramount to success on a daily/weekly/monthly basis.
So what Austin may need is surprisingly but actually plenty more massively successful tech companies to create jobs here. We need more Oracles. We need more Rackspaces. We need more of these companies who can, to some degree, lower the barrier to entry on the experience front and invest in programs like Black Girls Code and Code2040 in order to allow more people in the doorway to an industry that is more adult unfriendly to newcomers than the city of Boston.
This kind of reminds me of that Medium post I saw the other day that said the best way to lose 125 pounds is to gain 175 pounds.