Austin weekly roundup: Homelessness at center of city hall discussion

Austin City Council voted this week to purchase a hotel in Northwest Austin to convert into permanent supportive housing. (Courtesy Google Maps)
Austin City Council voted this week to purchase a hotel in Northwest Austin to convert into permanent supportive housing. (Courtesy Google Maps)

Austin City Council voted this week to purchase a hotel in Northwest Austin to convert into permanent supportive housing. (Courtesy Google Maps)

Good morning Austin.

Over the last few years, as Austin's homeless population has grown and tents have continued to crop up around the city, the discussion of how best to connect residents with housing has dominated the political discussion, at times drawing sharp lines within the community.

That conversation was front and center at Austin City Hall this week. On Thursday, City Council voted 10-1, with District 6 Council Member Mackenzie Kelly as the lone no vote, to purchase the Candlewood Suites in Kelly's Northwest Austin district and convert it into permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness. The hotel is located in the portion of Austin that lies within Williamson County, and earlier in the week, as our Ali Linan and Christopher Neely reported, Williamson County commissioners objected to the purchase because, they said, they were not sufficiently notified; the commissioners asked for a postponement that ultimately never came.

In a separate decision Thursday, City Council targeted four areas they described only vaguely—including a "major" road in downtown Austin and a public right of way near a library in East Austin—to forbid camping after connecting individuals in the area with housing. This would be the first time Austin walked back its repeal of a previously existing ban on public camping, which the city lifted in 2019.

And this spring, Austin voters will have a say in the matter. The Austin City Clerk certified the required number of petition signatures from Save Austin Now, a group seeking to reinstate the camping ban. That election will take place May 1.


—Jack Flagler, Editor, Central Austin and Southwest Austin/Dripping Springs editions

Other news to know:

-Dripping Springs ISD is building a new elementary school, which means the district will be redrawing its elementary boundaries. That process will continue through the next two months, and maps were released this week during the first public engagement meeting.

-Elsewhere in Dripping Springs, Dreamland, a new a new mini golf, pickleball, arts and entertainment center opened on Friday. If you're a mini-golf aficionado, this is your spot. It has two 18-hole courses with varying difficulty levels.

-East Austin bar Stay Gold has closed, but the location on East Cesar Chavez is going to reopen soon as Long Play Lounge, the second location for a bar that opened in North Central Austin in 2019.
By Jack Flagler
Jack is the editor of Community Impact Newspaper's Central Austin and Southwest Austin editions. He began his career as a sports reporter in Massachusetts and North Carolina before moving to Austin in 2018. He grew up in Maine and graduated from Boston University, but prefers tacos al pastor to lobster rolls. You can get in touch at jflagler@communityimpact.com


MOST RECENT

Austin Police Department
Loop 360 closed in both directions in Northwest Austin due to a shooting incident

Residents who live in the Arboretum area in Northwest Austin are advised to shelter in place.

Early voting for the May 1 election opens April 19 at a 7 a.m. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Early voting in Austin opens April 19: See what’s on the ballot, where to vote

City residents will be making decisions on eight propositions ranging from whether to adopt a strong mayor government system to whether to reinstate public camping bans.

Austin transportation officials said April 15 the range of corridor construction program projects initiated through the city's 2016 Mobility Bond remain on track for completion by late 2024. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Several Austin corridor mobility projects moving forward in 2021, program on track for 2024 completion

Transportation officials said some corridor program improvements previously planned along Guadalupe Street and East Riverside Drive are being reduced ahead of Project Connect expansions.

Jack Allen's Kitchen will be at 1345 E. Whitestone Blvd., Cedar Park. (Rendering courtesy Jack Allen's Kitchen)
7 restaurants coming to Cedar Park, Leander; new murals to go up in Georgetown and more top area news

Read the top business and community news from the Central Texas area from the past week.

The program, which began this week in San Marcos, gives Amazon and Whole Foods employees and contractors direct access to COVID-19 vaccinations. (Courtesy Amazon)
Amazon begins rollout of statewide vaccination clinics for employees

The program, which began this week in San Marcos, gives Amazon and Whole Foods employees and contractors direct access to COVID-19 vaccinations.

Photo of a home for sale
Central Austin housing market remains steep as area median home price reaches all-time high

Home prices in the Austin-Round Rock area have climbed more than 28% in the past year.

Residents ride bikes on Shoal Creek Boulevard in this photo from February 2020. Austin Water is taking on a project to replace water and wastewater lines in the Allandale neighborhood. (jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Water line construction project begins in Allandale neighborhood

Once the improvements are made, customers can expect water and wastewater outages typically lasting a few hours as their service is connected to the new lines.

Austin FC supporters celebrate the official announcement of the team in January 2019. (Amy Denney/Community Impact Newspaper)
How, where to watch historic first Austin FC match April 17

Check out this list of breweries, pubs and restaurants around Central Texas that are hosting watch parties for April 17's inaugural Austin FC game.

Z'Tejas' chorizo dumplings are served on the Arboretum location's porch. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Z'Tejas to open in Avery Ranch; butcher, deli to open in Dripping Springs and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Maj. Vito Errico, left, and Maj. Jason Zuniga are co-directors of Army Futures Command's Software Factory, for which the first cohort of soldiers started in January. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
From a rifle to a keyboard: Army Futures Command opens Software Factory at downtown ACC campus

Twenty-five soldiers started in January as part of the Software Factory's first cohort. Gen. Mark Milley, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will be at the Rio Grande campus for a ribbon-cutting April 15.

Mobile Loaves & Fishes leaders and Community First Village residents unveiled the planned third and fourth phases of the Austin development for the formerly homeless April 14. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin's Community First Village for the formerly homeless announces 127-acre, 1,400-home expansion

Officials with the community, which is intended for residents who have experienced chronic homelessness, said that two new expansion phases are expected to begin development in 2022.