On Wednesday, the Austin, Tx., City Council will vote on whether to purchase two hotels and turn them into permanent supportive housing for people experiencing chronic homelessness, reports The Appeal. If the measure passes, the city will spend approximately $16 million from its Housing and Planning Department’s general obligation bonds to acquire the two properties and use some money from a $6.5 million fund taken from the police department’s budget to provide services to the residents of the hotels. At full occupancy (which wouldn’t happen this year), services and operating costs for these two hotels are expected to be about $3.8 million annually.
In Austin, the City Council voted to immediately cut over $20 million from the police department’s budget, with most of that money coming from cancelling cadet classes, reducing overtime spending, and eliminating contracts for things like license plate readers. Another almost $80 million will be taken from the police department’s budget by moving certain civilian functions out, like dispatch and the forensics lab, though that money will still be spent on funding those civilian functions, just not within the department. About 2,500 people were experiencing homelessness in Austin at the start of last year, according to the 2020 Point-in-Time Count. Nearly 1,600 of those people were unsheltered. Purchasing the hotels would create about 140 units of low barrier permanent supportive housing with these kinds of wraparound services.