City council green lights spending framework for federal relief dollars, $100+ million for homelessness

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin City Council adopted a roadmap for spending federal pandemic relief dollars Thursday evening.

Among the highlights: a two-year, $106.7 million investment in fighting the city’s homelessness crisis. The money comes in large part from federal dollars through the American Rescue Plan Act but is also supported by local dollars.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our community to join forces and get our neighbors off the streets,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler in a statement released to the press. “While the American Rescue Plan provides unprecedented federal funding, we still need support from other public entities, businesses and our philanthropic partners to achieve our community goal of housing 3,000 people in three years.”

Here is the funding breakdown for the $263.5 million in federal and local dollars:

  • $106.7M: Homelessness Services
  • $44.3M: Austin Public Health COVID-19 Response
  • $35.3M: Rental Assistance
  • $21.0M: Workforce Development (including ACCC)
  • $12.0M: Creative Sector Assistance (including non-profit emergency relief)
  • $11.0M: Childcare/Family Connects
  • $6.7M: Individual Assistance
  • $3.0M: Food Security
  • $3.0M: Resiliency Hubs
  • $1.5M: Colony Park Sustainable Community
  • $0.5M: Community Navigators
  • $18.5M: Contingency (excess over 12% Budget Stabilization Reserve)

A late addition by council members added more rental assistance dollars.

Grants for live music — another industry hit hard by the pandemic — sit at $4 million. Council members asked city staff to find ways to increase that number to $10 million for the industry. It came after a group of musicians spoke at the meeting Thursday morning, requesting more help. It’s not yet clear where the requested money would come from.

“I think a lot of people in Austin think of a guy with a guitar as the Austin community, but no, these are real jobs, real people who rely on this,” said Kevin Russell, a longtime Austin musician.

Council now goes on a six-week summer break, and its next meeting won’t be until July 29. The elected body is drawing ire from some who say it is going to break without a more concrete plan for locating sanctioned homeless campsites.

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