AUSTIN (KXAN) — County commissioners and residents in Williamson County want answers from the City of Austin, where a vote is set for Thursday to purchase its next hotel for people experiencing homelessness.

Some Williamson County neighbors who live near the Candlewood Suites Hotel chimed in during a virtual town hall Wednesday night hosted by Austin City Council member Mackenzie Kelly.

The hotel, located off of Pecan Boulevard, falls in Kelly’s district, and she said she’s received more than 2,000 emails about it.

The facility is also part of Williamson County. Commissioners there say they didn’t even know the property was on Austin City Council’s list.

At Tuesday’s commissioners court meeting, members unanimously voted to send a letter to Austin officials, asking them to delay their project for at least 180 days. Commissioners say there are many questions they need answered.

“What are the impacts to Round Rock ISD regarding transportation, counselors, accommodations that may be needed? What are the social, medical and law enforcement services that are expected to be provided by Williamson County or entities in Williamson County?” asked commissioner Cynthia Long at Tuesday’s meeting.

Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell, Jr., said they’d like to have a conversation with Austin officials about the project before they vote on it.

“If they choose not to do that, counsel, I would like to know what any and all legal remedies are available to Williamson County and what resources would be necessary to use to make the right decisions,” Gravell said on Tuesday.

City of Austin staff say if council members vote yes on Thursday, people experiencing homelessness would be able to move into the hotel as early as July. (Source: City of Austin)

The news also came as a surprise to some Williamson County residents like Stephanie Goodman, who lives near the Candlewood.

“We had no prior notice of this — of the purchase or anything to that effect,” she said.

Goodman started a petition against the City of Austin’s potential move.

“Any type of economic impact study would be helpful. How is it really going to affect us?” said Scott Carson, another concerned resident of Williamson County who spoke up during Wednesday’s town hall with Kelly.

Supporters during the town hall said there’s a success record with the city’s other hotel conversions to permanent supportive housing, including: Spring Terrace, Arbor Terrace and Terrace at Oak Springs, developed by Foundation Communities.

“Go drive by and look and see what these properties look like, and I think you will be very, very pleased at the high quality value they offer to the community,” said Jo Kathryn Quinn, Caritas of Austin CEO.

Quinn says her group has already filed a letter of interest to the City of Austin to operate the permanent supportive housing at Candlewood.

Carson and Goodman insist this location is closest to residential communities and are concerned about crime and property value.

“They have a lease, they are required to pay their rent, which is lower than market rate and to abide by the terms of their lease,” Dianna Grey, Austin’s homeless strategy officer said during Wednesday’s town hall.

Carson and Goodman hope Austin City Council members think twice before voting on Thursday.

“We’re hoping that tomorrow they realize this location is vastly fundamentally different than the other locations that they’ve looked at and have purchased and to please not vote ‘yes’ tomorrow,” Goodman said.

Gravell sent his signed request to the city Tuesday and tells KXAN Wednesday he still hasn’t received a response from Austin Mayor Steve Adler.

We reached out to Adler for a response to Williamson County’s request. Here is his response:

“The homelessness crisis, which is only growing in the pandemic, requires us to act now. Real, permanent homes for people without housing is necessary and overdue. Leaving folks to camp on the street and under highways, with no humane alternative, is neither right nor safe.”

Steve Adler, Austin mayor