Cities near Austin expand capacities to help homeless as camping ban gets enforced

Hays

Cherokee Recovery Village, a community in the Bastrop woods, is expanding services to include homeless outreach, as long as those coming to them for help are sober (KXAN/Jala Washington)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As Austin police begin enforcing the camping ban in Phase 3, which started Sunday, a couple of cities nearby are doing their best to help people who may head their way. 

Southside Community Center, a shelter in San Marcos told KXAN it’s already seen an increase in people coming in. A non-profit in Bastrop is taking on the responsibility in a different way.

Cherokee Recovery Village, a community in the Bastrop woods, is expanding services to include homeless outreach, as long as those coming to them for help are sober.

“I was having a hard time at finding a place to go,” said Mandy Umberson, who has struggled with homelessness and is in recovery. “I needed somewhere more relaxed where I wasn’t feeling like I’m in a jail.”

Umberson has been at the Cherokee Recovery Village for just two weeks. She’ll help build cabins for new residents, as well as her own.

“The pallet cabins…if they decide they want to help build their cabin here, they will own their cabin here,” said Paul French, Cherokee Recovery Village founder.

And that’s completely free of charge. French said they’ll start with up to a dozen 12 x 12 cabins.

The door is open at the South Side homeless shelter in San Marcos too. They’re hoping to get a slice of the $400,000 for housing proposed in the next city budget.

Shelter director Ruben Garza said they’d use the money to build a new facility or expand.

He said daily they’re seeing 40-50 people seeking help. That’s double from just a few months ago

“It’s daunting, the number of people that are coming through, who need shelter,” Garza said. “We need a shelter that has space for families.”

Back at the Cherokee Recovery Village, the mission is to uplift — or even provide a permanent housing site.

“It’s kind of a different concept, but there’s quite a need,” French said.

French said they’ll also allow people to set up tents on its site, if needed, again, as long as they’re sober. He said they do regular drug and alcohol testing.

The South Side Community Center will know if it gets approved for funds to expand in September. 

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