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Austin is opening a temporary homeless shelter in Southeast Austin

Tuesday, May 16, 2023 by Andrew Weber, KUT

In light of a growing need for emergency shelter, Austin is repurposing a city-owned warehouse space in Southeast Austin to temporarily house 300 people experiencing homelessness.

In a city memo out late last week, interim City Manager Jesús Garza said a portion of the warehouse near U.S. Highway 183 and State Highway 71 will be converted for shelter space.

The site, known as the Marshalling Yard, was bought and redeveloped in recent years to be a storage space for the Austin Convention Center.

Garza characterized the plan as an “immediate effort,” though no firm timetable was given. The city put out a call Friday for a nonprofit to run the shelter.

Garza’s memo said the city will also expand its Northbridge and Southbridge shelters by 130 beds using more than $9 million in federal COVID recovery money.

More than 4,500 people are currently living outdoors in Austin, according to the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition. Since the closure of the Salvation Army’s downtown shelter, the city’s number of shelter beds has dwindled to just below 900.

As The Austin Chronicle first reported, nonprofits and local agencies providing services to homeless Austinites were taken aback by the city’s announcement. Some criticized the city for not getting input and using a “top-down” approach.

Garza said in his memo he recognized “the community may have questions” and said the city will have information sessions this week. Register for the online-only meetings below:

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

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