More public safety reform, restorative justice program for students up for vote at Austin City Council meeting


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

9-1-1 dispatch center would move out of APD

On Thursday, Austin City Council members will vote on an ordinance that would create an Emergency Communications Department to handle 911 calls, separate from the Austin Police Department.

This is the latest item up for a vote in the city’s efforts to reimagine public safety.

If approved, 222 nonsworn positions within APD’s current call center would be transferred out of the police department. The move would decrease funding for APD by more than $16 million.

Red River upgrades

Council will vote on a construction contract with ASD Consultants, Inc, who will complete improvements to the Red River Cultural District. The work will include sidewalk and pedestrian upgrades, lighting, trash cans, alley closures and temporary art.

ASD Consultants will get more than $1.1 million from the city. The contract allows 180 days for completion of this project

COVID-19 rental assistance

Council will vote on an agreement for the city’s Housing Authority to provide $29.5 million in federal dollars for renters financially impacted by COVID-19. The Housing Authority, or HACA, would also provide marketing, communications and outreach for the program, according to city documents.

This funding comes from the Federal Government’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

Restorative justice program for schools

If council gives the green light, the city would negotiate a contract with Life Anew Restorative Justice, Inc. to provide academic and personal development to elementary to high school students.

This includes behavioral interventions, counseling, mentorship, academic tutoring and skills development, according to city documents. Goals of the program include reductions in incarceration, school suspensions and expulsions, youth violence, along with improved mental health, increased school attendance, academic performance and graduation rates.

Program sites during the first year include Perez Elementary School, American Youthworks, LBJ High School, Akins High School and Community pods, according to city documents. Life Anew anticipates serving 500 students, the documents say.

The $1.1 million in funding for the program comes from the Reimagining Public Safety initiative.

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