Changes outside of the ARCH set to begin Monday

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — A sidewalk narrowing project outside of the ARCH is expected to begin next week.

The construction will reduce the amount of sidewalk outside the troubled Downtown shelter, along 7th and Neches Streets.

The goal is to reduce the number of people hanging around, and the number of crimes being committed.

Austin city leaders have acknowledged the ARCH isn’t operating well as a shelter, and that many of the people who hang out in front of the building aren’t getting help there.

It’s one of several changes expected outside of the ARCH. The city also plans to install drinking fountains and better street lighting in 2020.

This also comes as the city tries to reform the ARCH into a housing-first type of shelter.

Tate Langfield works at Feel Good Records, a nearby business.

She says she hopes the ARCH’s new look won’t just be a way to move the problem around.

She’s from Vancouver, where there are rehab centers and drug injection sites, more opportunities she says to help people experiencing homelessness get back on their feet.

“There’s progress and there is a success rate with it, and they do offer help,” she said. “Here it seems like nobody cares.”

Sidewalk construction is expected to last two weeks.

City leaders say it will not block the entrance to the ARCH, and that the ADA ramps on the corner will remain intact.

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