Veterans center ‘needs assessment’ coming
Thursday, October 4, 2018 by Jo Clifton
In response to a resolution from the city’s Commission on Veterans Affairs and City Council, the Human Resources Department is moving forward with an assessment of how to proceed with setting up a Veterans Resource Center.
HR has already allocated 4,800 square feet at the city’s building at 5202 E. Ben White Blvd. for the Veterans Services Office, and HR Director Joya Hayes told Council on Tuesday that the city might locate the resource center there. The Veterans Services Office is expected to move to the Ben White location early next year.
Hayes said her department would pay for studying the needs of such a center. She estimated the cost of such an assessment at between $10,000 and $40,000 and said that the department would absorb the cost.
Council Member Ann Kitchen, who authored a Council resolution requesting the needs assessment last year, said she wanted to make sure that her colleagues understood that the need had already been established and that the city was preparing to move forward once it has a business plan for the Veterans Resource Center.
But Mayor Steve Adler said that Council had not yet authorized creation of the resource center and that the plan would have to come back to Council for its approval. Then Kitchen said she agreed with the mayor on that issue.
Other Council members questioned whether the Ben White location would be the appropriate place since it might be difficult to get there by bus, and some, like Council Member Ora Houston, were concerned about duplication of services. According to the documentation presented to Council, a five-year lease at the Southeast Austin location would cost about $834,000. A five-year lease in a downtown location would cost about $1.8 million, according to that same document.
Hayes stressed that the purpose of the center was to offer one location for various veterans services so that those using the services would have a one-stop shop. The department reached out to 48 service providers, 12 of which expressed some interest in participating, Hayes said.
Photo by Jnn13 [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons.
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