[Excerpt from Austin Monitor]
Members of Central Texas Interfaith are asking the city to spend the funds City Council set aside a few weeks ago to alleviate homelessness in Austin – now. At a virtual news conference Tuesday, members of the group also urged Travis County to come up with $100 million to match what the city might provide.
Austin intends to spend at least $84 million on solving homelessness, mostly from its federal American Rescue Plan Act funds, to help with the effort. However, the city’s commitment is conditional on major investments from the county and private foundations. County staffers have recommended spending only $325,000 on homelessness in next year’s budget. Speaking for the group, Rev. Michael Floyd said,
“We’re tired of waiting and we believe that most Austin citizens are too. Austin citizens of every political persuasion share our desire for the city of Austin to act immediately to implement a comprehensive plan to end homelessness. That’s what we’re advocating today because the city’s efforts to assist those without housing have again been put on hold.”
[Photo Credit: John Anderson, Austin Chronicle]
Interfaith Group Calls for Immediate Action on Homelessness, Austin Monitor
Headlines / Quote of the Week, Austin Chronicle
Press Conference Footage, Central Texas Interfaith
....Leaders with Central Texas Interfaith – a non-partisan coalition of religious congregations – are also pushing the city council to act.
Jonathan McManus-Dail, the assistant priest at St. Julian of Norwich Episcopal Church, said the city should use available federal funds to make an immediate impact.
“I think many people, myself included, want more urgency around this issue because we see people suffering,” McManus-Dail told KXAN.
Austin has been criticized for not prioritizing permanent supportive housing efforts in the past. Homelessness advocates say the need for urgency has only intensified since the passage of Proposition B.
[Photo Credit: KXAN News]
Statement on City Funding to Address Rental Assistance and Homelessness, Central Texas Interfaith [6/7/21]
Statement on Use of Federal Stimulus Dollars, Central Texas Interfaith [6/10/21]
CTI leaders Ruby Roa of SoCo Episcopal and Trenton Henrichson of St. Ignatius Martyr Catholic Church advocated at Austin City Council this week for Austin to maximize affordable housing and public benefits for the city-owned redevelopment project at the former downtown Health South rehabilitation facility.
Councilmembers Tovo and Harper-Madison worked together to unanimously pass measures stipulating, among other community benefits, that "the central use of this tract is to be housing, specifically affordable housing."
[Photo Credit: HealthSouth Building/KXAN]
Rev. John Elford, senior pastor at University United Methodist, and David Guarino of All Saints Episcopal point out how state action impacts homelessness in Austin.
....Austin is at a critical moment in our fight to end homelessness. Recent attempts to revise the city’s old ordinances, which effectively criminalized everyday activities, brought people experiencing homelessness out of the shadows. It was hard to miss that our neighbors were suffering.
The response of the governor was to order the dismantling of encampments under state highways and provide a vacant lot off U.S. 183 as an alternative campground, far from the city’s social service and transportation hubs. As a result, many of our unhoused neighbors have been forced back to the woods, out of sight.
For years, state leaders have systematically disinvested in Texas’ public sector, exacerbating this problem. They have failed to make adequate provisions for affordable housing, social services, mental health and health care, and workforce development, pushing these costs to local governments. At the same time, these Texas leaders have limited the ability of cities to pick up the tab. They have contributed to the problem of homelessness and branded those who are suffering as criminal and disease-ridden.
The problem stretches further up the income spectrum. In one of our congregations, mobile home residents east of U.S. 183 are being pushed out by an owner who simply wants a higher rate of return. The tenants have been kicked to the curb, their last affordable housing options in Austin gone.
There is broad agreement that the real answer to people living on our streets is not relocating our neighbors, but creating sustainable housing....
[Photo Credit: Jay Janner, Austin American Statesman]
Commentary: This Holiday, Let's Focus on Hope for Homeless, Austin American Statesman [pdf]