City considers two sites as finalists for homeless settlements


Two city-owned properties have been identified as potential sites for homeless settlements, with an analysis of possible zoning issues before the site locations are disclosed.

The estimated cost of preparing sites with utilities and other services necessary to safely assist the local homeless population ranges from $ 1.33 million to $ 1.66 million. The city initially had a list of 78 properties considered for camp sites, seen as the most feasible way to tackle widespread homelessness which is again made illegal with the adoption of a proposed ballot in may.

A city ​​memo distributed Thursday provided a number of updates on measures the city is taking to establish temporary “bridge” housing around Austin, with the goal that those living there will be gradually moved to permanent housing with social services required.

The city has also moved forward with plans to convert one of its rented ProLodge shelters, which were used to house people infected with Covid-19, into a second bridge shelter that will have 300 beds for those seeking permanent accommodation. The shelter, located on North Interstate 35 near St. David’s Medical Center, was rented on June 25 and is being paid for with $ 4.2 million of the city’s US bailout money.

“We have always said that we will not lose sight of the need to create real solutions to help people find permanent housing, with the services they need to stay there, but we also recognize the immediate need for a safe place to sleep. until that happens, ”said Dianna Gray, the city’s homeless strategy manager, in a prepared statement.

“The creation of a second bridge shelter and efforts to increase the capacity of the community’s emergency shelters demonstrate our commitment to providing alternatives to homeless people in Austin.

Another ProLodge shelter was opened in mid-June in South Austin at an initial cost of $ 3.8 million. Twenty of the 75 available beds were occupied by people who had previously camped near the Terrazas Branch library on East Cesar Chavez Street.

City-owned parking lots are also assessed for use by homeless people who sleep in their cars. The note did not include details on the number or location of study sites, but it does examine well-lit parking lots with at least 50 spaces. Installing toilets, hand washing stations and safety is expected to cost $ 80,000 per year, with another update to Council on the selection and public engagement process later this month.

In addition to allowing tents owned by visitors, city employees are examining the possibility of creating tiny houses at the camp site, as well as using a large-style dormitory. On springs a shelter that could be created quickly and hold about 300 beds at a cost of just over $ 300,000 plus operating expenses.

The various mini-house options considered would cost between $ 5,000 and $ 10,000 per unit, with an installation time for each of around 30 days.

The homelessness strategy division is examining how to expand existing shelters, with 125 additional beds expected to become available. That number could climb to 300 if previous capacity restrictions related to Covid-19 were relaxed, with August 8 being the target date to increase capacity.

The next city council update, including locations and other details on potential camp sites, is expected on July 22.

photo by Lars Plougmann made available through a Creative Commons License.

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