New vouchers to pay for 125 permanent supportive housing units in Austin for 20 years

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — New housing resources are opening up for families and veterans experiencing homelessness.

Michael Gerber, CEO of the Housing Authority of the City of Austin (HACA), said it’s part of the city’s three-year goal announced last week to house 3,000 people, which is more than the number of people currently living on Austin streets and in local shelters.

On Thursday, the city and HACA announced 125 vouchers for permanent supportive housing.

“Our goal is that we’re going to be creating 125 safe, decent places for people to live, coupled with services, and that they and their families will be able to thrive there,” said Gerber.

To do that, they are giving out vouchers to four properties across town:

  • Espero Austin at Rutland – 1934 Rutland Drive
  • Texas Bungalows – 13311 Burnet Road
  • Foundation Communities’ Capital Studios – 309 E. 11th Street
  • Foundation Communities’ Waterloo Terrace – 12190 N. MoPac Expressway

Typically, Gerber said, most of their 6,000 vouchers go to tenants who then take the money to the open rental market.

“But what we found is that for our homeless neighbors, that doesn’t go deep enough. We really need to be involved in a long-term subsidy of the unit,” he said.

These new vouchers go to the project itself. They’ll cover rent for 125 units for 20 years.

“Hopefully that resident needs it for a much shorter period, and with the services, they get back on… their feet,” Gerber said.

He said some residents who are disabled or on fixed incomes may need to stay in their units but thinks most will move on, and another person can move into the unit.

Walter Moreau agreed and said in his experience, most people who move into permanent supportive housing do become independent, like one of his favorite residents at Foundation Communities named John.

“He had overcome a drug addiction from painkillers from injury from a motorcycle accident. Long story short is, you know, he lived with us for a couple of years, and got back on his feet,” said Moreau, executive director.

Moreau’s nonprofit will be getting some of those vouchers, going through another one — ECHO — to find participants.

“They keep a waitlist of folks that have been on, on the street for a long time and really have a lot of vulnerabilities, so we want to prioritize those folks,” he said.

Gerber said they’re in the process now of awarding the vouchers to the four complexes now, which are funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Moreau said they hope to get people moved in over the next few months to the two they run: Capital Studios and Waterloo Terrace.

Other properties, like Espero Austin at Rutland, are still under construction, Gerber said, and may not be open for another couple years.

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