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City relocates Harvey shelter

Friday, September 1, 2017 by Elizabeth Pagano

The “mega-shelter” once planned for the Austin Convention Center is no more. Instead, as of Thursday, Hurricane Harvey survivors will be staying at a newly leased property at 7000 Metropolis Drive Montopolis Drive. In an emergency meeting of City Council held before Thursday’s regular meeting, Council members unanimously approved a lease on the space, which will be reimbursed by the state. Though the approval was unanimous, Council members also had questions for city staff that presented the new plan. Foremost among those concerns was the relatively remote location of the shelter and its proximity to industrial uses. Staff explained that they were working with the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority to service the location, and assured those present that the location was a new, safe building that had been assessed by the city. City staff also emphasized that the new location had much better parking than the downtown convention center. When she questioned whether there were events scheduled at the convention center that were a concern, Council Member Ellen Troxclair was told that the shifting timelines and the fact that the population in need of shelter was yet unknown were the primary concerns. Already, estimates of 7,000 people in need of shelter have been revised to 1,500 to 2,000 people. “This is really creating a city within a city and we want them to have access into the city of Austin and other areas,” said Juan Ortiz, who is Austin’s director of homeland security and emergency management.

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