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Interfaith group calls for immediate action on homelessness

Wednesday, July 21, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Members of Central Texas Interfaith are asking the city to spend the funds City Council set aside a few weeks ago to alleviate homelessness in Austin – now. At a virtual news conference Tuesday, members of the group also urged Travis County to come up with $100 million to match what the city might provide. Austin intends to spend at least $84 million on solving homelessness, mostly from its federal American Rescue Plan Act funds, to help with the effort. However, the city’s commitment is conditional on major investments from the county and private foundations. County staffers have recommended spending only $325,000 on homelessness in next year’s budget. Speaking for the group, Rev. Michael Floyd said, “We’re tired of waiting and we believe that most Austin citizens are too. Austin citizens of every political persuasion share our desire for the city of Austin to act immediately to implement a comprehensive plan to end homelessness. That’s what we’re advocating today because the city’s efforts to assist those without housing have again been put on hold.” Council has set those funds aside and Mayor Steve Adler told the Austin Monitor that the city would know in four to six weeks how much funding to expect from private foundations. Asked why that time frame was too long, Carlota Garcia of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church said, “Four to six weeks is a timeline that we’ve heard over and over again over the past few years that homelessness has been such an issue. We welcome the identification of partners in this collaboration in putting up some hard money to construct shelters and we hope that the timeline can move more quickly. Summer is here now. The people’s needs exist now and so that’s why we’re calling on our city and county officials to start mobilizing that money now.” In response to a question about the recently announced plan to build shelters on two city properties, the group responded, “City Council is sitting on an $84 million contingency fund for homelessness that they should be spending right now to build emergency and permanent housing. While we haven’t looked at those campsite locations yet, we think the city should spend the money it has now to find those experiencing homelessness a dignified place to live.”

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