I received an email from Braden, Greg Casar’s Outreach Director, informing us of the Council Member’s accomplishments to help with the influx of transient communities we have seen. I have quoted a portion of his email below.
In this case, we:
- Reached out to Caritas, Austin Travis County Integral Care, ECHO, and other local organizations who offered their expertise and assistance.
- Asked that those non-profits be brought in to see what can be done, and have continued regular follow-up with them.
- Visited both your neighborhood and the adjacent property about 5-6 times.
- Attended community meetings you’ve organized and I coordinated additional community meetings with you, your neighbors, and Hart Elementary School parents.
- Coordinated a trip with Code, APD, Austin Resource Recovery, and the property owner, to visit each encampment and ask them to leave the property effective immediately.
- Worked with the property owner, who agreed to spend between $8,000 – $12,000 to clean up the encampments across his property, and establish greater deterrents to homeless populations seeking to set up camp on the property.
- Continue regular follow-up with the owners about progress as their development project moves forward and on any issues with homeless populations on their property.
- Leveraged city resources to clean up the debris and materials from the encampment (please see photo of materials removed from the encampment and other dumpsites, prior to Austin Resource Recovery picking up the materials shortly afterward).
- Advocated for an outside consultant to come in and evaluate the engagement APD has with the community and, knowing your concerns about police responsiveness and proactive engagement with you and your neighbors, we specifically asked the consultant to speak with y’all to provide your experiences as a critical source of feedback.
- Sit on a working group with 3 Council Members to set up the Sobriety Center in Austin, which will serve as a potential source of treatment for homeless people into recovery from substance abuse and cut down the time it takes police officers to arrest people for public intoxication and bring them to jail, so they can get back on patrol much faster.
- Just today at the City Council Meeting, we passed an item supporting funding for an exciting project (please see: http://housingfirstatx.org/about/), which is aimed at providing affordable housing, jobs services, a health care clinic, and mental health services for the chronically homeless, those with substance abuse issues and mental health illnesses.
From my perspective, the most important responsibility City Council has every year is to pass the budget. We leverage $3.5 billion in tax dollars each year, and last year we were able to:
- Increase the city budget for Health and Human Services by about $7 million, which goes to address some of the very issues that lead people to homeless and crime.
- Pass a budget for an outside community policing consultation, which I mentioned above, to work through how APD can better engage and interact with the community. This includes examining how police can be more responsive to calls and follow-up with cases.
- Identify $740,000 to prevent people from homelessness by an emergency assistance program for renters who would otherwise end up homeless.
I understand you are frustrated. We are frustrated, too. I’m hopeful that you’ll join us to continue working towards making your neighborhood a place where you feel safe. As ***** mentioned, we are continuing to work with your neighbors. We will continue to be leveraging the resources we have as the City government and will be fighting for more in the upcoming budget cycle. But to do the bigger work that needs to happen, we will need help. All of those things that we passed in the budget last year we couldn’t have passed without advocates working with us to pass those items. With the budget coming up, we have a huge opportunity to again impact public safety, homelessness, and similar issues face[d] by you and your neighbors . . . .