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Austin reopens former Salvation Army shelter for homeless women

The front of the Salvation Army building in daytime.
Patricia Lim
/
KUT
The city bought the Salvation Army's downtown shelter last month for $15 million. It can currently house 65 people.

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Austin has reopened the former Salvation Army shelter downtown for homeless women, including transgender women.

The facility, which has been renamed the Eighth Street Shelter, currently has space to accommodate 65 people. The city hopes to increase that number to 150 by the end of March.

"We know it's real important to provide a safe environment for individuals, especially women and transgender [clients] who have indicated wanting a shelter where they are the only ones in there and working with each other," Greg McCormack, a manager with Austin's Homeless Strategy Division, said.

In addition to a shelter bed, McCormack said, each individual will receive meals and assistance in locating more permanent housing.

The Salvation Army closed the facility at Eighth and Red River streets earlier this year, citing the aging building and increased operation costs. The nonprofit had served the downtown community since 1988.

The site was put up for sale in May. The city then leased the building for a year, with the goal of reopening it as an overnight shelter.

Austin announced last month it was buying the facility for $15 million in an effort to chip away at the city's shortage of shelter beds. More than 5,500 people are considered to be experiencing unsheltered homelessness in Austin, according to the nonprofit Ending Community Homelessness Coalition.

Clarification: This story has been updated to clarify the shelter is not open to all transgender individuals, just trans women.

Kailey Hunt is KUT's Williamson County reporter. Got a tip? Email her at khunt@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @KaileyEHunt.
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