Transit incentives, relocation from new homeless hotel on council agenda

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Here’s what city council will be taking up at Thursday’s meeting:

Moving tenants out of the new homeless hotel:

One item requests up to $320,000 to provide relocation assistance to existing tenants of the Rodeway Inn on South Interstate Highway 35. The city agreed to purchase and convert the hotel into a homeless shelter back in November, with the total cost being around $8 million. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will contribute Community Development Block Grant funds for the purchase.

The city tells KXAN about 10 tenants currently living at the Rodeway Inn would receive assistance, including advisory services, a rental payment, and a personal property move payment. The city is required to spend this money to relocate tenants under the guidelines for set in the Federal Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970.

Homelessness prevention:

City council is expected to authorize more money for Catholic Charities to help with homelessness prevention. The existing contract helps people with housing related costs to prevent them from becoming homeless due to evictions or displacement.

One-time funding for $250,000 would be authorized, as well as an additional 12-month extension for a total agreement amount up to $4,920,804.

Transit incentives:

Council members will take up multiple items to incentivize Austinites for using public transportation. Austin Transportation is requesting $700,000 to purchase transit passes from Capital Metro through its bulk purchasing program. The city says Capital Metro will provide a 20% discount for passes purchased for private sector companies and a 30% discount for passes going to government entities.

An additional $100,000 would go to Movability to help implement this pilot program. However, there’s a catch: the passes will be limited to Movability members, who can be found here. The City of Austin, for example, is a founding member of Movability.

Participants in the program will be required to use transit at least 10 times per month to continue to receive passes in the six-month pilot period.

The city says it doesn’t have the ability to discern who already are using transit, other than self-reporting. The pilot program will target companies that currently do not purchase or subsidize transit passes for their employees

City staff says it considered other incentives such as discounts at local businesses and credits on Austin Energy bills but believed this would be unlikely to incentivize new ridership.

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