Land and homeownership in the Chestnut neighborhood : oral histories of change in the community
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The Chestnut Neighborhood is a well-established, historically African-American neighborhood in East Austin that has undergone significant social, economic, and physical transformations. Chestnut prides itself on its culture of homeownership and has one of the highest percentage rates of low-income homeownership in the City of Austin. At the same time, the neighborhood also has a high percentage of vacant parcels and abandoned homes. This thesis investigates the current and past ownership of vacant lots as a way to understand the process of neighborhood change. Oral histories with longtime residents provide insight into how these residents experienced the change. This information helps identify strategies to support the needs of long-time homeowners and also respond to the needs of the broader, diverse neighborhood. The findings support recommendations such as: educating residents about the appeal of property tax assessments, continuing to support home repair and assistance programs, supporting groups that help with the payment of property taxes, and assisting heirs with the probate process.