After hours of debate, the Austin Metropolis Council OK’d one buy of a resort to finally home Austinites experiencing homelessness, whereas delaying the acquisition of one other till subsequent week.
The 2 motels – one in North Austin’s District 7 and one other within the extra northwesterly District 6 – would collectively price the town $16.2 million and will home at the very least 148 folks.
Council OK’d the $6.75 million buy of the 65-room resort in District 7, however punted on shopping for the opposite 83-room resort on the request of District 6 Council Member Mackenzie Kelly. The Council member cited community concerns about security and the pace with which Council moved to purchase the property in its first assembly of the 12 months.
She pointed to her constituent suggestions as proof that the acquisition wasn’t correctly vetted with the group. Kelly, who efficiently ran on a platform to rollback the town’s present homeless ordinances that largely enable public tenting and resting, argued the town shouldn’t apply its resort technique to this neighborhood.
“I feel that is indicative of how we by some means as a metropolis have taken a broad-brush method to the problem,” she stated. “These are very totally different places.”
Kelly requested for per week to pursue extra suggestions, and nearly all of Council agreed, with Council members Vanessa Fuentes, Pio Renteria, Greg Casar and Kathie Tovo voting in opposition to the movement.
The tack of shopping for up resort and motel properties to transition into housing for homeless Austinites isn’t new.
It’s a method the town first embraced in November 2019 when it bought the Rodeway Inn off Oltorf Highway and Interstate 35, after which the Nation Inn and Suites in District 4, which it bought in Could of final 12 months. In the end, the town plans on changing the motels into housing for folks transitioning out of homelessness, whereas additionally offering providers to assist these in want.
The town has also leased properties throughout Covid-19 to soundly home Austinites who stay outdoor or could also be inclined to the coronavirus.
Forward of the vote, public testimony resoundingly supported each purchases. Of the 93 individuals who signed as much as converse, 86 supported each purchases, 5 opposed and two have been impartial, in response to the town.
Shortly after the vote, Tovo stated she hoped forward of subsequent week there could be a good-faith effort to deal with among the resistance to the plan in District 6, and cautioned Austinites to not equate these transitioning out of homelessness with potential criminality, which experts argue is a false impression.
“I feel that, too, is without doubt one of the actually vital issues that the group will be taught in these resort and motel methods,” she stated. “These are people which are experiencing homelessness … the connection to crime is simply not there.”
The acquisition can be again up on the Council’s agenda subsequent week, alongside Council Member Ann Kitchen’s proposal to discourage encampments in 4 focused areas of Austin.
Dubbed the HEAL initiative, Kitchen’s plan would undertake a phased method to discourage encampments alongside roadways. It will additionally put aside $3 million in metropolis cash to deal with these already dwelling at encampments which have proliferated because the metropolis determined to reduce legal guidelines on tenting and resting in public in 2019.
Kitchen’s decision singles out four swaths of land throughout the town with camps that pose “dangers to public well being and security.”
The proposal would intention to deal with of us dwelling in these encampments. Then, the decision says, the town may probably rewrite its tenting ordinance to ban tenting in these locations – if Metropolis Supervisor Spencer Cronk thinks it’s essential.
This story was produced as a part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.
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