Photo by The Other Ones Foundation
Monday, June 28, 2021 by Andrew Weber, KUT

An Austin nonprofit is raising money to help make state homeless camp feel more like a neighborhood

For the better part of two years, the Esperanza Community in Southeast Austin has been home for many people experiencing homelessness. On any given day, roughly 150 people live and work on the weather-beaten, 5-acre blacktop owned by the Texas Department of Transportation.

It doesn’t look like a traditional “neighborhood,” but it has felt like that to a lot of people since its earliest days. Now, the Other Ones Foundation, the nonprofit that manages the camp, wants to make it look like one.

The Other Ones Foundation

This week, the foundation launched a campaign to raise money to build out the camp. It’s a continuation of efforts to build 200 tiny homes on the site, with a goal of adding communal spaces, upgraded facilities, kitchens and office space for employment and case-management services.

The Other Ones hopes to create four neighborhoods, each with its own kitchen and common area. Those neighborhoods would center around a community center that would also serve as a day shelter where people could rest or access services to help them get back on their feet.

The Other Ones is partnering with the Austin nonprofit Glimmer to raise $5.4 million for the project. Glimmer helped finance an initial slate of tiny homes that was installed in April after TxDOT crews razed garages that had housed some residents.

The Other Ones wants to set up 200 of the 10-by-12 shelters, which are insulated and come with air conditioning and electricity hookups.

After Gov. Greg Abbott repurposed the land in 2019, a coalition of business groups initially pledged to build a 300-bed shelter on the site. That plan fizzled out, and the Other Ones took over the site.

The Other Ones Foundation

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.

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