Austin committee to vote on plan to house 3K people experiencing homelessness in 3 years

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin nonprofits and advocates for people experiencing homelessness are working on a plan to house 3,000 people over the next three years.

Monday, members of Austin’s Housing and Planning Committee will vote on the plan.

This meeting comes just days after the May 1 Special Election where 58% of voters made the choice to pass Proposition B, the measure that would reinstate the citywide camping ban. The Austin City Council voted to get rid of the camping back in June 2019 with several council members.

Austin City Council member Greg Casar tweeted Sunday about the vote, saying it will only work “if there is true city, county and philanthropic support.”

If approved by the committee, it will go into front of Austin City Council on May 20.

The Summit to Address Unsheltered Homelessness in Austin has been meeting since late March and the coalition consists of community advocates, service providers, business groups and city leaders.

“If you go down to talk to people that are sleeping in these encampments, nobody wants to be sleeping in public spaces like that. They all want the dignity and privacy of a place to call their own and so, for me, the focus is trying to provide that as quickly as possible,” said Matt Mollica, Ending Community Homelessness Coalition’s executive director.

The plan to house 3,000 people will happen in phases starting with getting 100 people housed by June. Then, they aim to house 200 people by August, 400 people by December, 1,200 people by October 2022 and the remaining by April 2024.

In December 2020, various organizations including ECHO, the Downtown Austin Alliance, the Austin Chamber of Commerce, Austin Justice Coalition, Homes Not Handcuffs, and others teamed up to contract with Houston-based social services consulting firm Clutch Consulting Group and develop the coalition’s framework.

The plan will house the first 1,200 people over the next 18 months using a “series of 24 targeted rehousing activations,” officials said in a news release. They explained these outreach events would serve as “immediate opportunities” for those experiencing homelessness to connect with services, as well as offer pathways to “permanent supportive housing.”

Anti-camping ban advocates have said the ban would only drive individuals into the woods where they are less likely to connect with housing and other services.

“We know that more barriers will be put up for people sleeping unsheltered on our streets right now because they will be subject to fines and tickets and warrants and that will impact the length of time they spend on the street and their access to housing through the private market,” Mollica said.

Proponents of Proposition B argued the tent cities that have grown more visible around the city are a public health and safety hazard and hurts Austin’s image.

City officials said the exact date the camping ban will go back into effect will happen on the date the election results are canvassed. A city spokesperson tells KXAN that is expected on Tuesday, May 11.

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