Travis County commissioners approved a $3 million supportive housing contract with The Other Ones Foundation at a Feb. 7 voting session.

The contract provides funding for TOOF and people living on-site to build 200 new transitional housing units, hygiene facilities and a community center at Esperanza Community—a transitional shelter complex in Southeast Austin for people experiencing homelessness.

The contract also provides funding for on-site services, including harm reduction, medical and mental health, financial literacy, vocational opportunities, pet care, transportation access and others.

The 100-square-foot shelter units are temperature controlled, have broadband access, basic furniture and are expected to last 20 years.

“When we have creature comforts stripped away from us, it can become very clear very quick how difficult it is to do things like go to a doctors appointment or go apply for a job or go get treatment for mental health care or substance use disorder or any myriad of things we might be up against when we are in survival mode,” TOOF CEO Chris Baker said at the meeting. “That’s what this project is about; it’s about getting people out of survival mode so we can help people get to a place where they can make a dignified exit from homelessness.”

TOOF has already started building shelters and gathering spaces at the complex. The final project, which is the community center, is expected to be finished in September 2024.

The $3 million investment marks the second of 11 total contracts that will be made between Travis County and other local nonprofits to provide 3,000 units for unhoused residents.

The contracts are part of the $110 million federal dollars the county set aside for affordable housing in September 2021.

“Slowly but surely, we are seeing the benefits of the supportive housing resolution sponsored by Commissioner Gomez and myself and approved unanimously by the Commissioners Court,” Travis County Commissioner Ann Howard said. “I look forward to approving the next contract as soon as it is ready.”