Austin City Council approves creating first domestic violence shelter in more than a decade

FILE Austin City Hall

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Here’s what we’re monitoring at Austin City Council this week.

Downtown density fee changes: Approved

City council approved fee changes to the Downtown Density Bonus Program. The program, which started in 2013, allows developers to increase building height and density in exchange for a fee “in-lieu” that funds affordable housing and other community projects. The affordable housing fees for the program were recalibrated in 2019 based on market conditions but had not been adopted, according to council documents.

New family violence shelter: Approved

City council approved a project to convert a hotel into Austin’s first family violence shelter in more than a decade, choosing to reallocate some police funding. The city proposes to fund $8.1 million. The hotel, which the city is using as protective lodging for homeless individuals, would be operated by The SAFE Alliance.

Homeless housing contracts

Council voted on contracts with two city partners Thursday.

The contracts will pay Caritas and Integral Care to provide housing and services at the Texas Bungalows hotel, located at 13311 Burnet Road. City council agreed to purchase the hotel in January. Housing and services would be for people with disabilities who have also been chronically homeless.

In council documents, staff refer to the “Texas Bungalow Permanent Supportive Housing program.” Last week the city told us the purchases of Texas Bungalows and Candlewood Suites were not finalized.

“The City is still in our due diligence period of both of the contracts, during this time we are performing our analysis of the property, title, appraised value, survey, environmental factors prior to closing on the property,” said a city spokesperson in a May 12 email.

Another Council-approved action grants one-time funding of $279,000 with Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) to provide training and technical support on homelessness data reporting standards. According to council documents, the agreement will allow for ECHO to hire a third-party consultant to analyze existing program strengths and weaknesses and determine existing system needs, gaps and program improvement areas.

HOST team funding: Approved

Council approved a separate contract that increases Integral Care’s funding for its role on the HOST team, or Homeless Outreach Street Team, which makes contact with homeless individuals and helps connect them with services.

Funding for the group was increased to $600,000 effective June 1. Council also approved three 12-month contract renewal options that equal close to $400,000 in funding per year.

Stabilizing music and arts communities: Approved

Council will vote to ask the City Manager to find more funding for musicians, artists and the creative sector. Council is asking the city to find $10 million over two years (up to $5 million per year) to be used for grants. Money could come from federal stimulus dollars or general city revenue. The proposal asks to explore whether any funds are available to address losses to the music and arts communities because of Winter Storm Uri.

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