Lawsuit claims city needs to explain south Austin homeless shelter location

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A resident who lives near the site of Austin’s new homeless shelter is suing the city.

An attorney for Ellis Petersen says the city needs to be more transparent about its decisions regarding the location. The lawsuit describes Petersen as an activist against the shelter.

In June, the city approved the $8.6 million purchase of a south Austin facility as its new homeless shelter.

The facility is located along Ben White Boulevard between Manchaca Round and South First Street across from St. David’s South Austin Medical Center and less than a mile from Galindo Elementary School.

The lawsuit claims Petersen tried to request documents about the city’s selection process, but he says his requests were denied.

“We believe city officials should be transparent enough to explain how they chose this location for a homeless shelter, especially since they say this decision is going to be a model for locating a homeless shelter in each of the other 9 council member districts,” Petersen’s attorney, Bill Aleshire, said in a statement to KXAN.

Neighbors complained the city didn’t give them enough of a say before leaders decided on the shelter’s location. An online petition started almost immediately following the city’s approval of the site by people who opposed the location of this proposed shelter.

The south Austin shelter would not be a drop-in location, but rather a place where everyone who stays there is working toward getting to permanent housing. It would not just offer people a place to sleep, but would also focus on providing housing, social services, and resources.

The City of Austin provided this statement to KXAN in regards to the lawsuit.

“The City of Austin is in current and ongoing negotiations to buy property for a new homeless shelter—a need that has been widely and publicly discussed. Because the parties have not finished negotiating and reached an agreement with the current owner, the City followed State law to protect its negotiating position.” 

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