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City adopts resolution to expedite supportive housing for homeless

Friday, October 15, 2021 by Andrew Logan

City Council adopted a resolution in September establishing an expedited review and prioritization program for residential developments that provide housing for the homeless. 

Mayor Steve Adler sponsored the resolution, along with Council members Kathie Tovo, Ann Kitchen, Pio Renteria, and Greg Casar.

“The origin of the proposal was a desire to get as many units as we can in the ground as quickly as we can to help get people out of tents and off the streets and out of our greenbelts and into a place where they can get the services in a way that actually helps them and gives them the support they need,” Adler said.

Council approved the resolution in a 10-1 vote, with Council Member Mackenzie Kelly voting in opposition. Kelly did not elaborate on her vote during the meeting, and she declined to speak with the Austin Monitor after multiple requests for comment.

The resolution is part of an overall strategy by the city to help achieve the Austin Strategic Housing Blueprint target of 350 permanent supportive housing units per year, as well as the community goal of housing over 3,000 people experiencing homelessness by 2024.

“That’s going to require a supply of housing that does not exist today,” Adler said.

If the city is able to house 3,000 people in the next three years, Adler added, it will have the capacity to house homeless people at the same rate that they show up on the streets.

The Home Builders Association of Greater Austin told the Monitor in an email that the organization “supports housing efforts for people experiencing homelessness… As for the resolution, due to Austin’s housing demand, all housing should be placed on an expedited track, not just permanent supportive housing.”

Adler acknowledged the city’s lengthy development review processes. “You’re always trying to reach a balance between your competing priorities,” he said. “What this resolution says, for now and for the immediate future, let’s prioritize getting permanent supportive housing on the ground as quickly as we can.”

The resolution directs the city manager to “present any necessary instruments, including city code amendments, required to implement this expedited review and prioritization” program by Dec. 9, 2021.

Photo made available through a Creative Commons 2.0 license. This story has been changed since publication to correct an editing error.

This story was written by a journalism student at the University of Texas at Austin. The Austin Monitor is working in partnership with the UT School of Journalism to publish stories produced by students in the City and County Government Reporting course.

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