Austin homelessness summit sets goal of housing 3,000 in the next three years

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A coalition of homeless advocates and city leaders set a goal on Thursday to house 3,000 individuals experiencing homelessness in the next three years — just over the number currently living on Austin streets and in shelters.

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.

“For the first time, we have a strategy that is based on a shared vision for how to accelerate our response to unsheltered homelessness in Austin,” Lynn Meredith, chair of the coalition’s Core Leadership Planning Group and ECHO Board member, said in a statement. “It’s a culmination of the work done during the Summit, but also reflects the many years of input from dedicated citizens and leaders, and community conversations that have occurred—including many forums, hearings, and panels that have taken place over the past several years.”

The report called for a “radical expansion” of affordable housing to address the public camping issue facing the city.

On May 1, Austin voters will decide whether to reinstate the city’s ban on camping in public spaces. Several efforts in the state legislature would enact a statewide ban.

What’s the plan?

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.

How much will it cost?

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.

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

With $222 million already committed or anticipated, a funding gap of about $168 million in estimated operating expenses and $125 million in estimated capital expenses must be filled.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler said accomplishing the goal will not solely rest on the City of Austin, but must also include foundations, philanthropists, and the private sector.

“I’m excited that so many people in the community could come together and embrace a pretty big goal,” Adler told KXAN. “This is a special moment.”

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