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.
It’s no secret that Austin has been trying to increase their effort towards helping homeless individuals get off the street and to a better place in their lives. Homelessness in Austin is an increasingly pressing issue, and in 2018 there were approximately 2,147 homeless people living in the city, and increase by more than 100 people from the year before.
Austin has been trying to address the homelessness issue in Austin for years with lackluster results, not for the lack of trying. The city is now shifting their focus away from managing the issue, and are focusing more on solving it, which is where the Austin Homelessness Advisory Group is showing to be an integral part to that effort.
The Austin City Council has officially approved the purchase of a $8.6 million property located in South Austin to house a new homeless shelter.
The shelter, which will be located just off Ben White Boulevard, will be constructed inside an already-existing building and marks the latest effort from the city to help assist the people of Austin who are directly affected by homelessness. This includes the goal of constructing shelters in all ten City Council Districts.
On Thursday, June 20th the City of Austin approved an ordinance that would amend the city’s codes on camping in public areas, solicitation, sitting or lying down on public sidewalks and camping in downtown Austin.
Under the new ordinance, according to KXAN, the Austin Police Department will not be allowed to give our tickets or arrest homeless individuals who are soliciting, camping, sitting or lying in a public space in Austin unless they are causing a public health or safety hazard. An offense would only qualify for an arrest or ticket if they’re endangering the health and safety someone else or if they’re “intentionally making a public area impassable or unsable”.