On Thursday, October 26th, the Austin City Council and Planning Commission will be holding a joint public hearing at City Hall relating to the HOME (Home Options for Middle-income Empowerment) initiative. Below are some quick tips for how to sign up and how to deliver effective public comment.
How to Sign Up to Speak
To speak at the public hearing either in-person or virtually, you must register in advance. Online registration closes on Wednesday, October 25th at noon. You can sign up HERE.
Public comments are expected to start around 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, and AURA will have volunteers onsite to support anyone registered to speak. If you plan to attend Thursday, please text us at 210-264-1093 so we can add you to the list.
How to Give Public Comment
Giving public comment to City Council for the first time can definitely feel daunting. At the end of the day, most people who participate are normal people just like you, and after your first or second time it will start to feel more natural. You have as much of a right to make your thoughts known as anyone, don’t be afraid to have your say!
Here is some general advice:
1) Write down what you want to say ahead of time, either your exact testimony or bullet points. This also helps to ease nerves!
2) Don’t feel bad about feeling or sounding nervous! Being nervous makes you look more like a genuine, regular person.
3) Be straightforward and sincere. You don’t need to use gimmicks, just say what you want to say.
4) Be aware of the time limits. Each speaker will have two minutes to speak. That’s around 250-300 words. Don’t feel obligated to use the whole time.
5) Be positive. Painting a positive vision for what you want is more effective than just complaining. Signal that if they take positive steps, you’ll support them.
6) Use your personal story!
How to Structure Your Testimony:
- “My name is X and I am a resident of Austin in District X.” (Find your district here.)
- Start with: “I’m speaking today to urge the Commission and Council to support the HOME initiative.”
- Finally, share how Austin’s housing crisis has impacted you personally!
If you need a little inspiration, we have a lot of information about HOME on our webpage here. And if you don’t have a personal story, it’s still important for city officials to hear that you support these important reforms. At the end of the day, a brief sincere message of support is more important than long oratory. There will be a lot of speakers on Thursday, so a short and sweet message of support is more than enough!