Homelessness

KUTX Explores the topic of homelessness.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

City and county officials have set aside hotel rooms and the Austin Sobering Center to quarantine or isolate homeless Austinites who have or present symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

The Salvation Army shelter in downtown Austin.
Julia Reihs / KUT

A person staying at its downtown homeless shelter tested positive for COVID-19, Austin Salvation Army said Friday.

The person was sharing a living space with 19 other people, but has been transferred from the shelter to a local hotel.

Julia Reihs / KUT

If the new coronavirus has proved anything, it's that uncertainty is the only certainty, that action is better than inaction, and that it's important to have hope in light of a pandemic.

Just ask Tim Mercer.

State-owned land in Southeast Austin has been turned into a homeless camp.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

On a late February afternoon, cold winds tore through the Responsible Adult Transition Town in Southeast Austin, thrashing the tarpaulin and nylon walls of its tent village. But the chill didn’t deter Robert Rhodes from making his rounds.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

State officials agreed Thursday to lease state-owned land to an Austin nonprofit for $1 a month to house homeless Austinites, with the goal of ultimately building a shelter on the 6.7-acre tract.

Julia Reihs/KUT

From Texas Standard:

For some, Austin doesn’t feel like the relaxed, artsy city they knew a couple decades ago. The city’s population has exploded in recent years, and with that has come big-city problems.

Camp R.A.T.T.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A homeless camp in an unused state vehicle maintenance yard in Southeast Austin has been growing for months. Beginning with fewer than a dozen people occupying tents and re-purposed storage units, it’s now home to more than 140.

A homeless encampment near the ARCH in downtown Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Austin City Council is hiring Matthew Doherty, former head of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, to help find solutions to homelessness here. Members approved his contract on a 10-1 vote Thursday – but not without some trepidation, as Doherty's eight-month contract could cost the city $95,000.

Lynda Gonzalez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Navigating school isn't easy for many kids. Juggling classes, friends and extracurricular activities can be a challenge even in the best of circumstances. But it's especially hard for kids who are experiencing homelessness.

A homeless encampment near the ARCH shelter in downtown Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

As Austin seeks short-term housing for its homeless population, city staff say one option for an emergency shelter wouldn't come online for at least another two years.

Lynda Gonzalez for KUT

Hays County is conducting its first census of the county’s homeless community Thursday. The so-called point-in-time count is a tally of people experiencing homelessness – both sheltered and unsheltered – at a single time.

Gov. Greg Abbott
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Gov. Greg Abbott directed state troopers to increase patrols within two blocks of state buildings in Central Austin after two stabbings involving homeless Austinites since Friday.

A homeless encampment in downtown Austin.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Homelessness was a controversial issue in Austin in 2019 – here's a timeline of all the developments – and it's not going away any time soon. With that in mind, here's a look at some issues and initiatives to keep an eye on this year.

Gov. Greg Abbott, seen here at a press conference last year, says there will be an exponential increase in the number of people who test positive for COVID-19.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Twice last year, Gov. Greg Abbott drew ire from Austin city officials when he suggested that crimes were the result of the city's new approach to homelessness, in which it has relaxed ordinances prohibiting camping or otherwise posting up in public spaces.

Lead volunteer Rachael Pound speaks with a man experiencing homelessness, in a convenience store on South Congress Avenue.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Roughly 2,500 homeless people sleep in shelters or outdoors in Austin on a given night. That estimate comes from the "point-in-time" count, an annual citywide census of the homeless community. Cities and counties must do the count on a single night to get federal money to help combat homelessness and house people living on the streets.

Julia Reihs / KUT

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to a ruling that found a ban against camping in public in Boise, Idaho, is unconstitutional. 

A woman lived in her car in front of our apartment building for a couple of weeks. Our family brought down some food, clothing and a blanket, but the woman hesitated to open her door when we knocked and smiled.

After all, who were we? Why should she trust us?

We did not call police or a city agency to say, "There's a woman living in a car on our street." I've reported stories where I've spent the night in city homeless shelters. They can feel crowded and unsafe, and have little privacy. I can see why someone would choose to stay on the street or in their car.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin City Council delayed a $7.8-million plan to buy and renovate a Montopolis-area hotel and retrofit it to house Austinites transitioning out of homelessness. Council members are expected to take up the proposal at a meeting in January.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin City Council will vote Monday on whether to spend $7.8 million to buy and renovate a hotel off Riverside Drive in East Austin to house homelessness Austinites. The property could house at least 71 people.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Austin City Council members say they're concerned about the timeline, placement and funding strategy for a plan to expand efforts to buy and retrofit hotels to house homeless Austinites.

A homeless encampment near the ARCH shelter in downtown Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

ECHO, the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition, says the addition of 200-300 short-term motel units would substantially impact the community of Austinites living without shelter. In a memo sent Tuesday to the mayor and City Council, city staff said they agree.

The Rodeway Inn
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin City Council unanimously passed an $8-million plan to buy and repurpose the Rodeway Inn in South Austin to house people transitioning out of homelessness.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Austin is no longer pursuing a 100-bed shelter in South Austin and could opt instead to provide housing in motels for homeless Austinites.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Gov. Greg Abbott's office said the state will use 5 acres of state land at U.S. Highway 183 and Montopolis Drive as a temporary campsite for homeless Austinites. The site would serve as a stopgap until a privately backed effort brings a temporary shelter online in the downtown area.

ATX Helps says it wants to provide at least one temporary shelter from Sprung Instant Structures to hold 150 bunk beds and comfortably sleep 300 people.
Sprung Instant Structures

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.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A day after clearing encampments outside the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless, Austin police on Tuesday arrested a man for allegedly violating the city's new camping ban near the downtown shelter.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Crystal Harris cares about two things – a blanket and a teddy bear that belonged to her mother, who died two years ago. This morning, the 24-year-old homeless Austinite was prepared to fight for both of them.

Temporary shelters and materials gathered under an overpass at Ben White Boulevard and Victory Drive could be cleared out by the Texas Department of Transportation Monday, according to the governor's office.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Gov. Greg Abbott's office says it's forging ahead with cleanups of homeless encampments under overpasses in Austin.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Every Walls is a company man.

The 73-year-old veteran served in the Army in Vietnam. He follows rules, and he follows chain of command. He also shares a camp across the street from the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH) with a friend.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Gov. Greg Abbott's office says the Austin City Council has taken a "meaningful step" to address homelessness after its vote to partially reinstate a camping ban last night, but said he's going to ask the Texas Department of Transportation to clean up camps under bridges.

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