AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Friday, The Salvation Army said it would be extending its downtown shelter operations for up to 30 days in order to relocate clients.
The City of Austin said staff from the Homeless Strategy Division and other service provider partners visited clients and case managers to give an overview of relocation options.
On Wednesday, the city said it was working on a plan to relocate clients of the downtown Salvation Army shelter after the organization announced its closure.
On Feb. 17, Salvation Army announced it would be closing its downtown shelter March 15, citing it could not continue to offer the desired level and quality of care due to the age and condition of the facility.
According to the City, the shelter’s closure would leave approximately 100 clients in limbo. In a meeting with the City Wednesday, Salvation Army said it was still working to relocate 32 clients.
To address the situation, the City said it would announce detailed plans later this week on how the current guests of the downtown shelter will be helped.
“This is a vitally important issue to Council and to the community,” Austin Interim City Manager Jesús Garza said. “We are exploring all options for placement and will have a solution by the end of this week that ensures each Salvation Army resident is provided for and able to stay here in our community if they wish to do so.”
In a release, Mayor Kirk Watson expressed concern not only about the closure but also about the short notice residents were given.
“I’m disappointed that it’s taken this long for The Salvation Army to live up to the promise they made in January to take care of each and every resident that they’re displacing. I’ve been pushing them every step of the way and sent a letter to Major (Lewis) Reckline yesterday demanding that they fulfill their responsibility,” Watson said. “Last night, Salvation Army asked for help from the City to do so. Austin is home for these residents, and we will take care of our neighbors.”
Mayor Kirk Watson and council members asked Salvation Army to consider extending the closure date or allowing the City to use the building as a shelter until it is sold. A representative told the City Wednesday, it would be brought up at Friday’s Salvation Army board meeting in Georgia.
The organization said it has been losing more than $3 million a year for years on the shelter which opened in 1988.