In what is expected to be the very first project in Central Texas designed to help address the area's homelessness issue, a brand new apartment complex that will be constructed in East Austin will provide housing to individuals who are currently experiencing issues that include not only homelessness, but also situations related to substance abuse and mental illness.
The complex, which is being called The Terrace at Oak Springs, will take advantage of the “housing first” approach. This specific initiative is one that is designed to help those who are homeless transition into housing that is both permanent and supportive in nature.
The group Integral Care, which, according to their official website, “helps people build health and well-being so everyone has the foundation to reach their full potential,” will be the ones instituting this policy for The Terrace at Oak Springs. Their plan will be to house 50 people, with half of that total comprising homeless veterans. The complex itself will also have facilities dedicated to rehabilitation and treating substance abuse, both of which will be open to those who live elsewhere in the community.
Ellen Richards, Integral Care's chief strategy officer, had the following to say regarding the project:
“We all know homelessness is an increasing issue across our community and Integral Care serves a unique population that is individuals living with mental illness an substance abuse disorder and chronic illness. Our goal is to help those individuals move from the streets and recover from the conditions that they live with. Without a home, no one can recover on the streets, so the goal of this project and others like that are to ensure that people have a safe place to call home and begin that journey to recovery.”
Justin Newsom, the Assistant Chief of the Austin Police Department, has also spoken about the new space as well, stating that the complex could end up becoming a brand new way to assist homeless individuals obtain a sense of both self-sufficiency and independence. Newsom was further quoted as stating the following:
“When we break up camps, we tell people you can't camp here, but we have nowhere to send them to. And so what happens is they create a new camp somewhere, and then they get told they can't be in that spot. And so we just keep chasing this problem around the city with very few options.”
In terms of the apartment building itself, it will measure four stories in height and measure 40,000 square feet. In total, there will be 50 efficiency apartments that will be completely furnished. Despite this, those who live in the community will be able to help ensure that those who will be moving into the complex will not be doing so with nothing. A partnership has been formed between Integral Care and Coco Bundle to provide residents with essential items like bedding, towels, cookware and other important personal items.
The Terrace at Oak Springs is expected to officially open sometime late this summer; however, no exact date has been announced as of yet.
Crystal has been coming to AFTS Open Studio for more than 5 years and tries to attend once a week “so that I feel like I’m doing something - life’s not just passing me by. I have something to look forward to.”
“Life can draw you away from your real talent, and AFTS helped me rediscover an old talent. [AFTS] gave me the opportunity to rekindle that talent.”
During these times of lock down, social distancing and increasingly less human connection, we are determined to bring our artists and others experiencing homelessness an opportunity for self-expression and creative relief to combat the increasing risk of depression and isolation.