AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin intends to use the Marshalling Yard, near the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, as a temporary shelter for people experiencing homelessness, according to a new city memo. It’s part of a council-directed attempt to expand the number of shelter beds the city offers.
According to the memo, a portion of the 70,000-square-foot building will be used for the shelter effort. It could create up to 300 additional emergency shelter beds. The goal is to use the shelter for roughly a year while more permanent shelter is created, the memo said.
The Marshalling Yard was built to be an extension of the Austin Convention Center where trucks could be parked and materials could be stored, according to its website.
People living in the neighborhood nearby expressed concern about the building also being used for temporary shelter, but also said they have a significant number of people living in the area who are homeless. One neighbor described there being “hundreds” of people living in the greenbelt in that area.
“We have to pay somebody from our HOA fees to clean up the tents and camps and trash around the HOA property,” the neighbor said. Still, she said she wishes the city would have notified the neighborhood.
“The only way I found out about it was through social media on the Nextdoor app,” Sonia Rivera, who has lived in the area since 2007, said. “They need to reach out to the community. We understand that there’s an issue, but they need to reach out to the community that it’s going to effect.”
The city is also working to find a nonprofit to provide services at the shelter. The city will use roughly $9.1 million from American Rescue Plan Act funding to make it all happen.
The city will host a virtual community information session and provide further details on the plan next month, the city said.
The memo also announced Austin is making additional space at its Northbridge and Southbridge shelters by converting rooms from single occupancy to double. That will create space for roughly 130 additional people, the city reported.
The city is also working to get people into permanent supportive housing, the memo said. The city sited several projects — including the Balcones Terrace, Espero Austin at Rutland and Pecan Gardens — as opening soon.