Austin’s second ‘bridge’ homeless shelter expected to open in August

Austin
Many Austinites have grown fed up with the growing number of visible tents in the city (KXAN Photo/Chris Nelson)

Many Austinites have grown fed up with the growing number of visible tents in the city (KXAN Photo/Chris Nelson)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A hotel previously used by the City of Austin as a COVID-19 isolation center is set to open in August as the second bridge shelter for people experiencing homelessness in Austin. Repairs and cleaning are currently underway at the facility and the City’s Homeless Strategy Division hopes operations will start at the beginning of August, a release says.

A bridge shelter provides a temporary, transitional place to stay, often when an individual experiencing homelessness has been offered permanent housing.

The central Austin motel, located at 3105 North Interstate Highway 35, is expected to provide 55 rooms for people experiencing homelessness. The City says a year of operations is being funded via the $4.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds that Austin City Council approved for the creation of shelter capacity or designated encampments, according to a release.

The first shelter, formally known as the Roadway Inn at 2711 S. Interstate 35, is now called the Southbridge shelter. Neither location will be a walk-up shelter, the City says.

The City’s overall goal is to add an additional 300 beds for people experiencing homelessness by the middle of August. These two shelters get the City to more than 40% of its goal for available beds.

The Southbridge shelter has 75 total rooms. According to the City, about 20 people from an encampment at the Terrazas Library in east Austin have been placed in to Southbridge. Additional encampments have been targeted under city council’s Housing-Focused Encampment Assistance Link (HEAL) initiative, which is designed to address unsheltered homelessness in Austin. 

The City says all available rooms at Southbridge are expected to be occupied by the end of July or early August.

Additionally, City staff provided an update on City-owned properties that could potentially be used as sanctioned encampments. The original list of 78 potential properties has been whittled down to two potentially suitable locations, which would cost an estimated $1.3 million and $1.6 million to run each year, the release says.

Those sites “will be identified after further legal analysis is complete,” according to the City.

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