A group of Austin businesses, nonprofits and faith-based organizations is trying to raise $14 million to build and operate a temporary shelter for Austinites experiencing homelessness.
The coalition, led by the Austin Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Austin Alliance, launched Thursday and is asking for donations, with a goal of opening the shelter next year.
The coalition, operating under the moniker ATX Helps, said the shelter would immediately house homeless Austinites who typically face years-long waits for permanent housing.
"The City of Austin has been trying to address the rising homelessness numbers by largely focusing on permanent housing solutions — which have waiting lists of up to two years," the announcement said. "For many experiencing homelessness, access to immediate shelter and accompanying services can be the catalyst needed to take their next step, regain employment and pave the way to permanent housing."
The group says it wants to provide at least one temporary shelter from Sprung Instant Structures to hold 150 bunk beds and comfortably sleep 300 people.
The heated and air-conditioned shelter would have bathrooms and dining and laundry facilities. ATX Helps says people living in the shelter will have access to "comprehensive wrap-around services," including social services and support for mental health and drug or alcohol issues.
Unless someone is deemed a danger to themselves or others, the group says, people will not be required to take drug tests. Pets will be allowed in the shelter.
Once its fundraising goal is met, ATX Helps says the shelter could be operational within three months.
On Monday, the Texas Department of Transportation, under the direction of Gov. Greg Abbott, began removing personal property from homeless camps under overpasses in Austin. The City of Austin began enforcing its reinstated camping ban the same day.
The Austin Resource Center for the Homeless and the Salvation Army's shelter are at capacity. Greg McCormack, executive director of Front Steps, which runs the ARCH, told KUT's Andrew Weber it has a 200-person waiting list.