Austin buys hotel to transform into supportive housing for homeless
AUSTIN, Texas - On Wednesday, Austin City Council voted to purchase the Texas Bungalow Hotel & Suites off of Burnet Road in North Austin.
The price of the 3-year-old, 65-room-hotel is expected to near $7 million. After renovations, it should offer about 60 permanent supportive housing units designed to get people off the street and keep them housed.
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"My first reaction is, it will probably clean up the highways, make the city look a little better, less people like sleeping on the side of the roads and stuff," said Braylon Cannon who lives at the Olivine, a gated apartment complex near the hotel.
He thinks putting the shelter in such a quiet area is a good idea. "I think like far out this way, it’s kind of like stretching [the homeless population] out of them, trying to pull them out of downtown," he said.
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Cannon’s neighbor Sophia Yandell has similar feelings, saying "I think it’s wonderful, the houselessness in Austin has gotten really bad, so it’s great to see that there’s more resources."
It is estimated that over 10,000 people access services for homelessness in Austin each year, according to nonprofit Caritas.
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"You can’t just solve [the city’s homeless crisis] in one easy step, I mean this is a great step in the right direction but there’s so much more that needs to be done," said Yandell.
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On Wednesday, the vote for another hotel, Candlewood Suites off Pecan Park Boulevard in district 6 was postponed. Council member Mackenzie Kelly said she wanted to talk with her constituents in the area before things move forward.
A City of Austin spokesperson released a statement on the purchase, saying:
"The purchase costs of the hotel on Burnet Road, North Austin, will be funded from the Housing & Planning Department’s 2018 General Obligation Bonds. In the FY21 budget, City Council approved the reinvestment of $6.5 million dollars from the Austin Police Department Budget, to the Austin Public Health budget to be used for permanent supportive housing and/or other support services to address homelessness which is one of the City’s public safety priorities. Part of those funds will be used to cover on-going operational costs and services associated with the purchase of this hotel, which will be converted to permanent housing sites for those experiencing chronic homelessness."