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Mark Richardson is a multimedia journalist, editor and writer who has worked in digital, print and broadcast media for three decades. He is a nationally recognized editor and reporter who has covered government, politics and the environment. A journalism graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, he was recently awarded a Foundation for Investigative Journalism grant and has three Associated Press Managing Editors awards for excellence in reporting.
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Commission OKs housing for homeless over neighbors’ objections
Few argue with
However, the Planning Commission’s recommendation could be for naught when it goes before City Council in late July. Residents from the
The Community Partnership for the Homeless is proposing to build a 110-unit complex at 5908 Manor Rd. Director Frank Fernandez said he plans to offer housing to the formerly homeless who have successfully completed transition housing.
“Why are we doing this?” Fernandez asked. “There is a savagely acute need for this type of housing in
Fernandez said his foundation plans to have staff on hand to work with a small percentage of the residents who may need more assistance than others. It will also have around-the-clock security using both staff and cameras, and a single point of entry to the complex.
However, all that was not enough to assuage the concerns of adjacent neighbors, many of whom expressed concern for the residents of such a project due to high crime in the neighborhood.
Paul Saldaña with the Northeast Austin Business Alliance said his group’s aim was to maintain the quality of life for
“There is overwhelming opposition to this from people living near where they plan this project,” he said. “There is an abundant supply of housing for low income people in this neighborhood. It’s also in a high crime area, which is not a good place for such a vulnerable population to live.”
He said the planned complex was not what the Windsor Park Neighborhood Association had in mind for the area when it developed its neighborhood plan and future land use map. “It’s a significant intrusion on the neighborhood,” he said.
However, Saldaña and several others opposing were careful to note that they were not against affordable housing, nor specifically against this project, but felt strongly that this was the “wrong project in the wrong place.”
Rodney Ahart, president of the Windsor Hills Neighborhood Association, said there was ample building in the area that could serve the purpose.
“There is a 124-unit apartment complex that is in receivership right across
However, Fernandez said he needs to build the 50,000 square foot, three-story complex to house single individuals in transition.
“The apartments have a mix of unit sizes and it would cost just as much to buy them and convert it,” he said. “Also, the complex is in receivership, and we don’t know what its true availability is.”
Commission Member Paula Hui moved to approve the zoning recommended by city staff on the project, which was for LR-MU-CO-.NP. That measure was defeated 2-7, with only Hui and Commissioner Saundra Kirk voting in favor.
Commissioner Mandy Dealy immediately moved to approve the applicant’s request, which was for MF-3 NP and LR-NP.
Seven of the nine commission members prefaced comments about their vote with how difficult a choice it was.
“I am absolutely torn over this choice,” Dealy said. “It would meet a serious community need, but it’s also clear where the neighborhood stands on this. I personally would not mind having this in my neighborhood – which is
The Commission voted 6-3 to recommend the project to City Council, with Hui, Kirk and Commissioner Clint Small voting against. The measure is scheduled to go to City Council on July 24.
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