The ARCH shelter suffers from bed bugs, cold showers and occupancy issues according to Austin Code Department report

The Austin Resource Center for the Homeless is the lone city-operated homeless shelter in Austin.

The Austin Resource Center for the Homeless is the lone city-operated homeless shelter in Austin.

The Austin Resource Center for the Homeless, one of two homeless shelters in Austin, has bed bugs and water temperature and occupancy issues, according to a recent memo from the city’s public health department.

The memo, sent to Austin’s mayor and council on Monday, June 25, cites the results of a June 22 code inspection in which officials found the presence of bed bugs, showers spouting cold water, occupancy limit issues, a hole in the bathroom wall and a leaking water pipe. Code officers also reported that fire exits were being “propped open inappropriately.”

The ARCH, located at 500 E. Seventh Street, is managed by the nonprofit organization Front Steps. Executive Director Greg McCormack said the inspection was a surprise; however, he countered some of the report's claims. He said the showers definitely have hot water and the shelter is not overcrowded, rather, the Fire Marshal still needs to designate an occupancy limit for the building.

As for bed bugs, McCormack said it is an ongoing issue for homeless service organizations, but the shelter is taking new steps to continue to fight the pests.

"It's a struggle; when you're having people come in from different places, especially if they've been camping or staying at lower-end hotels," McCormack said.

The shelter has revamped its bed mat-cleaning strategies over the last six months, McCormack said. They consistently heat treat the mats and pest control teams now come in weekly as opposed to monthly.

McCormack said many of the code violations indicate the volume of homeless people the ARCH helps.

"We have 500-700 people coming in the doors each day," McCormack said. "That creates a lot of wear and tear."

In addition to providing shelter, the ARCH helps connect homeless people to resources and provides services such as phone calls, mail, lockers and showers.

According to Monday’s memo from Austin Public Health Director Stephanie Hayden, the public health department received complaints on the conditions at the ARCH earlier in the year. Following an initial visit by the health department, Hayden requested an inspection by the code department.

After the June 22 inspection, the code department found the various violations.

The ARCH has recently come under scrutiny as the city debates how to move forward in solving Austin’s homelessness issue. Assistant Police Chief Justin Newsom said Austin has between 2,000 and 7,000 homeless people at any given time, while the ARCH only has 100 beds.

Bill Brice, head of the Downtown Austin Alliance, recently called the shelter one of the city’s "greatest failures" in its attempt to solve the homelessness problem.

By Christopher Neely
Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, USA Today and several other local outlets along the east coast.


Photo of boarded-up Sixth Street bars
With COVID-19 projections 'bleak' through Thanksgiving, Travis County keeps bars closed

Statistical models from the University of Texas show a 92% chance the pandemic is worsening, but the increase in cases and hospitalizations have leveled off in the last few days.

Movemint Bike Cab owner David Knipp said the loss of the South by Southwest Conference and Festivals during the spring festival season led to a 50% decline in revenue.  (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
'I just need to pay the rent:' Austin small businesses in survival mode are doing everything in their power to outlast the pandemic

From selling inventory to flipping their business models to changing a yoga studio into a coworking space, small business owners are trying to avoid adding their names to the growing list of locally owned Austin institutions that have shut down.

Customers can order Goodstock Angus and Goodstock Black Label beef, including ribeye steaks, strip steaks, filets and ground chuck. (Courtesy Nolan Ryan brands)
Nolan Ryan expands Round Rock-based butcher business and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Austin area.

Burnet Road at West Braker Lane
Corridor projects along South Lamar Boulevard, Burnet Road will break ground by early 2021

Two corridor roadway projects approved in the city of Austin’s 2016 Mobility Bond are moving forward after recently receiving environmental clearances.

An "I Voted" sticker is left outside the Northwest Recreation Center in Austin, one of 37 early voting polling places open in Travis County. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
More than half of all Travis County voters have cast their ballots, exceeding early voting turnout percentage in 2016

More than 448,000 votes have been cast in Travis County. Early voting closes on Oct. 30.

Austin ISD trustees met Oct. 26, discussing in-person learning during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (Courtesy Austin ISD)
Twice as many Austin elementary students have returned to campus compared to first day of in-person instruction, district says

Austin ISD will open its campuses to accommodate all students who request in-person instruction beginning Nov. 2.

Capital Metro released new renderings Oct. 26 of its proposed Project Connect expansion, which voters will decide Nov. 3. This rendering shows a Blue Line light rail train at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. (Rendering courtesy Capital Metro)
In final week of early voting, here is what Austin residents should know about Project Connect

The proposition appears as a 237-word block of text near the end of the ballot but boils down to a simple question: Are voters for or against a significant expansion of local public transportation, paid for in part with property tax funds?

East West Manufacturing will retain 30 jobs and create an additional 30 new jobs for a total of 60 full-time jobs in Round Rock over five years, according to an economic incentive agreement signed Oct. 22. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Round Rock to add 60 jobs and more Central Texas news

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

Gati, a new coconut milk ice cream shop run by Thai Fresh owner Jam Santichat, is now open in East Austin. (Courtesy Jam Santichat)
New Hopdoddy location, coconut milk ice cream and more East Austin business news

Several new businesses have opened in or are on their way to Central-East Austin.

Austin FC logo
Austin FC partners with Special Olympics Texas to field MLS Unified team

As Major League Soccer franchise Austin FC starts play in its upcoming season, the team will help to field a squad made up of Special Olympics Texas athletes for a series of matches.

A screen shot of Elon Musk speaking into a microphone
Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirms 2021 opening for Travis County gigafactory

Musk said construction is moving apace at the new electric auto factory east of Austin.