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Photo by C. C. Chapman

Meeting lays out plan for ARPA funds allocated to alleviate homelessness

Thursday, October 21, 2021 by Anna Kate Browne

On Monday, the Homeless Strategy Office hosted a community meeting to discuss the proposed spending plan for the American Rescue Plan Act funds directed toward helping the homeless community in Austin.

The city intends to invest $106.7 million from ARPA funds to house individuals and expand services offered to those experiencing homelessness. The meeting served to get feedback from the community about how the money will be allocated. 

“I want to recognize that we are at a time in our community that is both very exciting in a lot of ways and extremely challenging,” Homeless Strategy Officer Dianna Grey said.

According to Grey’s presentation, $55 million will go toward core housing programs, $25.5 million will go toward building new housing units, $10 million will fund crisis services, $9.2 million will go to system capacity building, and $7 million will fund supportive services.

Grey introduced the presentation by explaining the depth of the issue, citing ECHO’s 2021 Homelessness Prevalence Estimate which said on any given day, 3,160 people are experiencing homelessness in Austin.

The presentation comes after the Summit to Address Unsheltered Homelessness in Austin met last March and April to develop a strategy to reduce the number of unsheltered people in the city. The summit created an investment plan and high-level goals – including the goal to house an additional 3,000 people by 2024. To achieve this, the summit set a target to fundraise nearly $300 million. This money, along with ARPA dollars, will help fund the $515 million comprehensive plan to address homelessness.

Additional ARPA funds will come from Travis County, whose Commissioners Court voted Sept. 14 to allocate $110 million in ARPA funds to solve homelessness.

According to City Council’s resolution approving the allocation of the ARPA funds, the city housed an estimated 1,879 people in 2020. The estimated total spent to work on homelessness last year was $85.6 million, which includes the acquisition of hotels in the city’s hotel conversion strategy.

If the $515 million plan is fulfilled, the total amount spent each year through 2024 could reach over $100 million.

“We are in a situation where we have unprecedented resources potentially to address this issue,” Grey said.

Austinites are invited to complete a survey about how they think ARPA dollars should be spent. That survey, along with the transcript and presentation from the meeting, can be found at SpeakUpAustin.org.

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.

Photo made available through a Creative Commons license.

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