AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin City Council on Thursday approved a new lease for the former downtown Salvation Army shelter. The building will now be operated by Urban Alchemy with the capacity to serve up to 150 people nightly, according to the city.
Urban Alchemy is the California-based group that runs the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH) shelter near the former Salvation Army shelter.
After the Salvation Army announced it was permanently closing its homeless shelter downtown, which dedicated beds to women and children, the City of Austin will now lease the space from the nonprofit and make the beds available again.
Austin City Council voted to approve a one-year agreement with the Salvation Army to lease the space starting July 1. It will cost the city roughly $1.2 million, which will come from American Rescue Plan Act funding Austin Public Health put aside for homelessness. Another resolution council approved expanded the city’s contract with Urban Alchemy to include operating and providing social services at the shelter.
The city said contract negotiations will determine who will be allowed to stay at the shelter. The shelter previously housed a significant number of women and children.
“Homelessness continues to be a challenge, rooted in the lack of available housing. Yet, we know we can do something about it,” said Interim City of Austin Manager Jesus Garza. “Keeping the doors open and ensuring resources are accessible at the Salvation Army’s former site is another step towards our commitment to creating a safer and healthier environment for all of our community members.”
The currently empty shelter sits in District 9 near the Austin Police headquarters in Council Member Zohaib Qadri’s district.
“The city needs more shelter capacity. We have about 4,000-5,000 unhoused folks in this city. We truthfully don’t have enough space currently for all those bodies,” Qadri said.