There are currently plans to consider the addition of a homeless shelter in an additional neighborhood in the city of Austin. This past Thursday, members of City Council ordered that a city-owned building be found as soon as possible, which would then be converted into a temporary homeless shelter. This process is part of a continuing effort to reduce the overall size of downtown Austin's homeless population.
It's also because ARCH, or the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless, is currently overflowing in terms of the building's population. In fact, the sidewalks that surround the building are about as busy as one might think they would be.
Kathie Tovo, Austin's Mayor Pro Tem, says that this is a problem on so many levels and that a solution needs to be found. Tovo also says that the homeless in downtown Austin deserve a shelter and also deserve to be removed from an environment that is rather conducive to crime, further stating that there is a risk of drug dealers potentially preying on the homeless population. Tovo feels that repurposing a city-owned building into a temporary homeless shelter for a period of approximately six months may be a good fix for the time being.
Staff was given two weeks by City Council to come up with a list of buildings that would fit the proper criteria, which means that the building must not only be safe, but also located near transit as well.
This resolution is different from one that was previously passed last October, in which City Council tasked staff with locating properties that would be able to serve as permanent housing and shelter for members of Austin's homeless community. This is a search that continues to be ongoing.
As Austin continues to grow and change, we will continue to be there for the homeless community through art.