Plan to house 3,000 homeless individuals in Austin in the next three years would cost $515 million

Austin government, nonprofit and business leaders recently participated in a weeks-long summit centered on unsheltered homelessness in the city. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin government, nonprofit and business leaders recently participated in a weeks-long summit centered on unsheltered homelessness in the city. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)

Austin government, nonprofit and business leaders recently participated in a weeks-long summit centered on unsheltered homelessness in the city. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)

Austin City Council members on April 20 shared their support for a newly-developed city plan to house upwards of 3,000 unsheltered homeless individuals over the next three years, alongside questions about the level of funding and community-wide engagement that could be required to successfully facilitate the initiative.

Homeless Strategy Officer Diana Grey shared an overview of the proposal and its "banner goal" of rehousing 3,000 people April 20 following a weekslong summit to address unsheltered homelessness in the city which she said featured participation from government, private, nonprofit and community representatives.

The housing initiative, which Grey said would be gradually implemented through mid-2024 in addition to the city's present rehousing pace of an estimated 1,800 people per year, is aimed at targeted outreach and rehousing efforts at encampments of people experiencing homelessness. Officials also noted that the plan fits within the framework of the ongoing first phase of Austin's Housing-Focused Homeless Encampment Assistance Link program, or HEAL, also aimed at addressing the city's prominent homeless encampments and which Grey said was intended as a stepping stone for future initiatives.

"We want to really beef up the teams that are going into the encampments to include the outreach work that we’ve already got folks doing really well in the community. Making sure of course that we continue to have behavioral health resources attached to that outreach team, but also that we offer storage to those who need it while they wait for housing that we’re cognizant of transportation needs that will be there as people transition into housing. And that we really also bring in peers who are really critical in terms of understanding the experience of people who are moving into housing," Grey said.

Based on the strategy outline introduced during the city's recent homelessness summit, Grey said the total cost of the plan is now estimated at around $515 million. Around $222 million is accounted for through committed and anticipated funding, Grey said, with a need for an additional $293 million from both public and private sources still needed to fill in the program's gaps.


Grey and several council members acknowledged that the strategy will require increased contributions from all sides of the Austin and Travis County community to reach its goals, a shift officials said began through the spring summit.

“In looking at this, what seems to be different is that over the last several years I've never seen the chamber of commerce and the Downtown Austin Alliance align with [Ending Community Homelessness Coalition] and Austin Justice Coalition and Homes Not Handcuffs the way that people seem to be aligned now. I think that clears a lot of the path," Mayor Steve Adler said.

Multiple council members expressed approval of the plan and its potential for mitigating homelessness in Austin. Alongside the enthusiasm, some members also questioned city staff on the process's funding and the need for wide-ranging partnerships and philanthropy from local government, business and community representatives for success.

"If we’re going to go to the public and say that we have a plan, we have to be clear about, ‘This is the part the city can fund, and this is the part that we need people to step up.’ Because the plan doesn’t work if it’s just the city," District 10 Council Member Alison Alter said. "I know that the spirit of the summit and everyone who came was to be part of that solution, but before we celebrate it too much we need to make sure that those other pieces are together because we have a crisis and we need to address it. And the quicker we can get these resources in place, the quicker we can address it.”

As planning on the longer-range homelessness plan in Austin continues, City Manager Spencer Cronk also said council's May 4 work session is expected to feature an update on the HEAL program. That update will also come days after Austin voters either approve or reject a ballot proposition to reinstate portions of the city code restricting where people can sit, lay, sleep and camp outdoors.


MOST RECENT

Austin Bouldering Project currently operates a gym on Springdale Road in Austin. (Courtesy Austin Bouldering Project)
Local rock-climbing gym to open new location in South Austin this fall

The new gym will have comparable offerings to the original in East Austin.

Tents have become a common sight throughout Austin including along Cesar Chavez Street downtown, but with the passage of Proposition B the city may now consider moving unsheltered homeless individuals to designated sites. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin City Hall notebook: Designated campsites for the homeless are back on the table

City staff had previously dismissed developing official camping locations in 2019, but new directives from City Council this week could revive the concept in Austin.

Wag-A-Bag is headquartered in Round Rock. (Megan Cardona/Community Impact Newspaper)
Wag-A-Bag to operate under new ownership, name; Austin, TxDOT at odds over I-35 overhaul; and more top Central Texas news

Read the most popular business and community news from the past week from the Austin area.

The Highland Tech Center is an office complex that finished redevelopment in March. (Courtesy Aquila Commercial)
North Central Austin business news: Office complex opens in Highland, picnic meals offered in the parks and more

Mes Amis is an outdoor dining service that provides baskets with French-style cuisine for picnics. Two new fitness studios, Hive + Honey and Regymen, are also now open.

Stephanie Hayden-Howard will become an assistant city manager in Austin on May 10. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Role changes coming for health officials leading Austin-Travis County COVID-19 efforts

Dr. Desmar Walkes will take over as Austin's next medical director and local health authority as Dr. Mark Escott and Stephanie Hayden-Howard transition to new roles with the city.

Barton Springs Pool, shown here in March 2020, will require reservations for residents wishing to visit after 8 a.m. starting on May 17. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Barton Springs Pool will require reservations starting May 21

Visitors who want to visit the pool after 8 a.m. will have to make a reservation for a two-hour block of time.

Road closure stock image
TxDOT to demolish I-35 ramp in North Austin early Saturday morning

State crews will perform controlled implosions of the northbound I-35 to northbound US 183 flyover between 6-8 a.m. in the morning on May 8 and May 15.

A pilot Austin Police Department cadet class is now set to commence in June under an updated training regimen and with additional city and community oversight on the APD academy's culture and curriculum. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin City Council votes to restart APD cadet training in June, with framework for ongoing reviews of pilot academy

The Austin Police Department's 144th cadet class will now kick off training next month, with continued oversight of APD's instruction and culture throughout the 34-week academy process.

Holland Photo Imaging celebrates 40 years in business this year. (Courtesy Holland Photo Imaging)
The latest business news in South Central Austin

1. Holland Photo Imaging, located at 2125 Goodrich Ave., Ste. A, Austin, is celebrating its 40th anniversary in the community this year. Founded in 1981 by Pete Holland, the business has been owned by residents Brian and Morgan Morrison since 2006. Holland Photo Imaging offers film processing, printing, framing, photo restoration and archiving services. 512-442-4274. www.hollandphoto.com

A sign advertises a property for rent in Austin on May 6. Local eviction orders remain in place through August 1 protecting most tenants from eviction. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Local eviction moratoriums remain in effect despite federal judge’s decision

The May 5 ruling from a U.S. District Court judge striking down a federal moratorium does not affect orders in place in Austin or Travis County.