My day job is development associate at Austringer Capital Group. (Which, in case you’re curious, is an archaic term meaning someone who hunts using birds of prey.)
Our company develops commercial, multi-family residential and mixed-use properties with a focus on urban infill development, which means developing vacant or underused land in already established areas. We’re committed to sustainable development and working to create housing that meets the needs of people at a wide range of income levels.
Right now we’re working on our flagship project, a 39-unit multi-family apartment building in Middleton that will be located across from the Willy Street Co-op on University Ave.
At Austringer I handle all our operational tasks including serving as the point of contact for contractors, working with people at the city/county/state levels, completing our pro forma analyses and handling grant funding applications.
It’s been fascinating to learn more about the tiers that make up the housing market—ranging from market rate to fully subsidized housing. Often times when people hear that workforce or income-restricted housing is coming to their neighborhood, they make assumptions about what that means. The reality is that everyone deserves a place to call home and if we want truly inclusive communities then we need inclusive housing development and policies.
It’s also been interesting to gain a greater understanding of what needs to be in place when developing housing to help those living in poverty, especially those dealing with challenges related to substance abuse or mental and physical health.
These types of developments struggle if the people they aim to serve don’t have access to the services they need to thrive or, as is often the case, if those services do not have the funding necessary to function properly.
My most memorable caffeine was the amazing saffron tea I was drank in Washington D.C. while attending a panel discussion on the Iran nuclear deal. The experience was both eye-opening and dreamlike. I was working as an intern at the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies at the time and had a friend who made excellent black tea with saffron candy.
My current caffeine of choice is usually something bright or a latte. And when it comes to making coffee at home, if there’s a gadget, I probably have it! My mom buys them constantly and passes them on to me when she’s tired of them.
My favorite place for caffeine depends on whether I’m having food too. If I’m eating, I go for Ancora (try their blueberry jalapeño breakfast sandwich) and for just coffee I like Fair Trade Coffee House on State Street. Their nitro cold brew is amazing.
The person I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with is Annie “Jump” Cannon.
I’ve always loved astronomy and Cannon was an astronomer from the late 1800s/early 1900s who was central to creating the system for classifying stars (by their spectral lines) that is still used today.
Cannon was very ill as a child and born deaf, but had a love of astronomy from a young age and studied constantly before making a career for herself in the field. Aside from being a pioneer in stellar classification, she was working at time when women’s lives were incredibly restricted. Her work helped expand the notion that women should have equal access to education and employment. On top of that, she was also an early suffragist. It would be so fun to talk with her—I’d have so many questions!
World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine: The lack of housing in general and affordable housing in particular. The resources are there and the will is there. What we lack is a coordinated way to put those resources to work. There needs to be more discussion around the hard choices that need to be made to have sufficient housing. For instance, we have a real aversion to building up in this country—we tend to sprawl and eliminate the opportunity for green space.
Housing makes such a critical difference and is an important first step. That being said, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the importance of fully funding support services too. Housing is a first step that provides a base for people to build their own stability. It alone won’t solve every problem, but eliminating the anxiety and added stress that accompanies not having a place to live, or not knowing how long you will have one, goes a long way.
There are a lot of people working for this, both as individuals and organizations, but it’s something we need to be talking more about. At the end of the day, people do better when they have a place to live.