New podcast digs into the explosive growth and pitfalls of Austin's housing market
For many Austin newcomers, it's not easy to picture the bustling, tech-driven city as a sleepy and weird college town. However, a new seven-episode podcast series by Austin's local NPR station helps bring those memories to life by diving into the messy history of the city's housing market.
Hosted by KUT housing reporter Audrey McGlinchy, Growth Machine: How Austin Engineered its Housing Market examines the decision-making over the last 100 years that has brought Austin the infamous I-35 highway, "Silicon Hills," and more.
Most glaringly, Austin's explosive growth has also caused extreme segregation, which is not an accidental consequence.
"It’s the result of decades of decisions about what — if anything — gets built in Austin and where," a press release said. "From a master plan to move Black and brown residents to one part of town, to fights over how to protect the environment, to an outdated land development code — all of these are pieces in a machine that’s engineered Austin’s housing market."
McGlinchy said in the release that the podcast also provides necessary historical context regarding the difficulty of building in the west side of town, as well as affordability issues. Ultimately, she explained, Austin's history is rooted in growth.
“People move here every day. And the city gets bigger and bigger — not just the population but also the geography," she said. "The way we as a city have handled this growth, the direction in which the city has grown – that’s the bigger story.”
Listeners will hear from influential local voices in the podcast, such as Mayor Kirk Watson, Black Austin Coalition co-founder Donald Dallas, city council member Natasha Harper-Madison, Save Our Springs Alliance executive director Bill Bunch, and more.
Reporting for Growth Machine is elevated by several prominent KUT staff including Transportation Reporter Nathan Bernier, Senior Correspondent on Energy and Environment Mose Buchele, Assistant Digital Editor Marisa Charpentier, and Assistant Program Director Jimmy Maas.
Growth Machine: How Austin Engineered its Housing Marketcan be found on all podcast platforms. More information about the podcast can be found on kut.org.