AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two city-owned homeless shelters will soon have new management after Austin City Council unanimously approved contracts with Urban Alchemy and Austin Area Urban League.
Starting in September, California-based Urban Alchemy will take over the reins at the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH) in downtown Austin.
The Austin Area Urban League will run the city’s Southbridge shelter for $4.22 million.
Last month, the city ended its partnership with Front Steps, which had managed the shelter since its inception.
“The contractor that we had for ARCH essentially collapsed and was not really functioning as a nonprofit organization,” city councilmember José “Chito” Vela said.
Urban Alchemy’s emergency contract of $4.14 million would more than double the $1.83 million annual contract for ARCH operations, which was approved for Front Steps last year.
“We have to have these services available so we can get people off the streets,” Vela said.” We cannot just shut down these services.”
The city’s contract with Front Steps concludes on September 30. According to ECHO executive director Matthew Mollica, there’s not much time for everyone to get ready for the switch over.
“You’ve got 45 days to transition the work, operations, and get the staff acclimated,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot of work in a short amount of time.”
Local leaders are also pushing the new shelter operators to try and rehire Front Steps staff.
“The more familiar faces that are around, the more people who have been doing work in those facilities, makes for a smoother transition,” Mollica concluded.