Austin

News, events, and entertainment happening in and around Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson

Julia Reihs/KUT News

A man drove a rented van down a Toronto sidewalk Monday, killing 10 people. Last month, a bomber terrorized Austin with a series of apparently random attacks that killed two people and injured four. These and other incidents we hear about in the news can elicit a variety of emotional responses, including fear.

Lynda Gonzalez for KUT

Update: The Austin City Council approved ECHO's Action Plan to End Homelessness at its April 26 meeting.

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The original story follows.

The number of people in Austin who are homeless has increased by 5 percent since 2017, new figures show.

The Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) reports there are 2,147 people of all ages living on Austin's streets, up from 2,036 in 2017.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

David Jones has been renting his apartment in North Austin for four years. He's grown an impressive herb garden on his front porch: Rows of parsley, oregano and thyme line one side. He’s a veteran on a fixed income, and his housing story hasn’t been an easy one.

“In 1999, I was renting a house here in Austin,” Jones said. “I came home on a Friday evening, and there was a notice to vacate – eviction notice – on my door. I panicked, and I moved all my stuff by that Monday.”

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

This post has been updated.

The Austin City Council voted unanimously Thursday to rename two streets that had been named for Confederate figures.

Robert E. Lee Road will become Azie Morton Road, after the Austin resident and first African-American U.S. treasurer. Jeff Davis Avenue will be renamed for William Holland, who was born into slavery and became a Travis County commissioner in the late 19th century. He was integral in establishing a school in Austin for disabled children of color.

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

In the median of Highway 183 near the Austin airport, there’s a scraggly patch of mesquite trees. The grass around it is overgrown. In the shade of those trees is the final resting place of at least six people — buried more than a 100 years ago. The historical marker at the little graveyard says it’s the Davidson-Littlepage Cemetery.

Now, as the cars zoom by within feet of the graves, a massive construction project looms nearby.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

An Austin-based conservative think tank has sued the city over its paid sick leave ordinance. The ordinance, which goes into effect Oct. 1, requires all private businesses to provide anywhere from six to eight paid sick days for employees.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Today is the last day to register before the primary runoff elections on May 22. If you’re not registered, don’t worry: There’s still time to send off your application before the deadline.

Gabriel C. Perez / KUT

Thousands of Austin students walked out of class today and marched to the state Capitol to participate in a nationwide call for action on gun violence.

Anthony Albright via Flickr

If you live in Austin, chances are your gas bill is going up. That’s because Texas Gas Service, the utility that supplies most of the city with gas, is raising rates. The company has done it every year since 2011, and some people think the process by which rates have risen needs an overhaul.

Julia Reihs / KUT

You can't not notice the trees that line the paths on Austin's many hike and bike trails. But have you ever noticed a fair amount of them are numbered? They're on small metal tags nailed to the trunks.

Writer Will Neely noticed them while he was running along the Butler Hike and Bike Trail, so he asked about it for our ATXplained project, a series where KUT answers questions about life in Austin.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

When Lewis Conway Jr. was released from prison in 2000 after serving time for manslaughter, the state required him to wear an electronic monitoring device. But nothing fit his ankles.

“So they put the electronic monitor on my wrist,” said Conway, who works on criminal justice issues for the nonprofit Grassroots Leadership. “It was about the size of a baby car on my wrist.”

Gabriel C. Pérez

A fund created to preserve affordable apartments in Austin has raised enough money to begin buying properties.

Affordable Central Texas is the nonprofit behind the Austin Housing Conservancy fund. President and CEO David Steinwedell says the goal is to buy 1,000 housing units over the next year.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley is on Capitol Hill this morning, testifying before the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee as part of a hearing about local, state and federal law enforcement responses to major events from the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing to the 2018 Austin Bombings.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Austin is a place that not only prides itself on bars and festivals, but also on its wildlife. While bats and salamanders have long enjoyed a certain ecological cache, lately the great tailed grackle has become a controversial contender for unofficial city mascot. Still, it flies in a strange borderland between love and hate.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

What kind of job did the media do covering the Austin serial bombings earlier this year? That depends on which media you are talking about.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

It’s not unusual for local governments to help facilitate the nationwide census. But in Austin, those efforts are likely to be ramped up ahead of the 2020 census because of concerns of potential undercounting.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Jumping the gun works, it seems.

While city staff were devising a pilot program to govern dockless bikes and scooters, expecting to bring a proposal to council members in June, two companies dropped their electric scooters throughout the city. Now the Austin Transportation Department has proposed fast-tracking approval of the pilot program.

Audrey McGlinchy / KUT

It’s been a year of firsts for Stephanie Culver and Jonathan Brou.

In December, the couple bought their first home in Manor, 15 miles from downtown Austin.

“We couldn’t afford Austin to be honest with you,” said Culver, who bought the home with her boyfriend for about $207,000. “This was in our price range.”

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Ben Hamill was confused. Down the street from his house in Brentwood, a building was going up, and he and his wife couldn’t quite place what it was. It looked like an apartment or a condo, as far as they could tell, with floor-to-ceiling windows, some cubist-looking eaves and all the trappings of a typical condo. Then they put up a sign: STORAGE.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

In East Austin – just east of Airport Boulevard and a short drive from downtown – you’d rightly expect to find a new crop of houses going up. Instead, you'll find La Loma Community Solar Farm.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk has been on the job since Feb. 12. He says the city has a track record of growth that most other cities would envy, but needs to work hard to meet the challenges that growth presents.

Gabriel C. Pérez

Austin Public Health has released an interactive map showing child care and pre-K facilities throughout Travis County, and indicating which centers have received certain national or state accreditation.  

Council Member Delia Garza said where child care centers are located in the city affects everyone – not just those with young children.

Lynda Gonzalez for KUT

A few dozen people gathered last week at the King-Seabrook Chapel at Huston-Tillotson University for a community safety meeting organized by the Austin Local Organizing Committee.

“The reason that we are here is not a pleasurable reason,” Robert Muhammad, one of the event's hosts, told the audience.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Stewart Vanderwilt, general manager and director of KUT and KUTX, announced today he is leaving Austin to become CEO of Colorado Public Radio.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

As part of KUT’s ongoing coverage of race and racism in Austin, Morning Edition Host Jennifer Stayton talked recently with Carolyn Helsel, a Presbyterian minister who teaches preaching at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Helsel has spent more than 10 years facilitating white congregations’ discussions about racism and published a book called Anxious to Talk About It: Helping White Christians Talk Faithfully about Racism.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The City of Austin has released a new comprehensive map of housing for low- and middle-income residents.

The digital map, known as the Affordable Housing Listing, shows an array of income-restricted housing units subsidized or incentivized by the city.

Stefan Keith for KUT

City leaders are weighing the possibility of putting an affordable housing bond on the ballot this November. A city task force is recommending a $161 million bond, but some Austin City Council members want to almost double that amount.

Department of Defense

On Saturday, the Pentagon identified an Army soldier killed in Syria this week as Master Sgt. Jonathan J. Dunbar, 36, from Austin.

Dunbar was killed on March 30 when a roadside bomb blew up near his patrol vehicle in Manbij, Syria.

He was born in Minnesota, but graduated in 1999 from John B. Connally High School in Austin.

Dunbar had deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan six times since he joined the Army in 2005.

Audrey McGlinchy / KUT

Activists filed a petition with the City Clerk on Thursday in an effort to put all land development code rewrites, including CodeNEXT, to a public vote.

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