Austin City Council panel advances plan of housing 3,000 homeless in 3 years

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin City Council Housing and Planning Committee voted on Monday to advance a plan of housing 3,000 people experiencing homelessness over the next three years — a plan that emerged from a homelessness summit in April.

The vote comes two days after Austin voters chose to reinstate the city’s public camping ban and would still need to be approved by the full council on May 20.

“This plan, which would need support really from the city, the county, our philanthropic community, the private sector, nonprofits, everyone would have to come together if we want to execute such an ambitious plan,” Council Member Greg Casar told KXAN.

The plan, admittedly, comes with a funding gap of nearly $300 million. It’s unclear how the slices of the pie would be divided between local governments and private partners, but Casar hopes Austin and Travis County leaders officially make their commitments this summer.

In collaboration with the Austin Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Austin Alliance, ATX Helps attempted last year to raise $14 million to construct a shelter to house the homeless but abandoned the plan during the pandemic more than $12 million short of its goal.

“So often, the public sector is doing one thing — you’ve got the private sector and philanthropy donating to this effort or that effort — and it doesn’t add up as well as it could,” Casar said.

The report from the Summit to Address Unsheltered Homelessness in Austin set benchmarks to house 100 people by June, 200 by August, 400 by December, 1,200 by October 2022, and 3,000 by April, 2024.

Summit to Address Unsheltered Homelessness in Austin – Working Document as presented April 15, 2021

In order to house 3,000 people in three years, 2,300 rental units would be secured by offering incentives to landlords while another 1,000 units of permanent supportive housing would be developed.

The report estimates operating expenses of about $240 million and capital expenses of $275 million for permanent supportive housing, prevention and diversion programs, and landlord incentives.

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