$175,000 memorial proposed to honor Austin's homeless

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by KRIS BETTS / KVUE News and photojournalist DATHAN HULL

Bio | Email | Follow: @KrisB_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on August 28, 2013 at 10:22 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 29 at 11:38 AM

AUSTIN -- For 20 years thousands of joggers on the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail have run past a plaque honoring Austin’s homeless.

“People love the bench. They love the tree and sometimes they read the plaque, but they don't bring it together,” said Richard Troxell, the founder of “House the Homeless."

"House the Homeless" donated the plaque and bench as well as planted the tree along Auditorium Shores in 1993.

Now Troxell hopes to personally create a new 17 by 8 feet memorial that will cost around $175,000.

“All the money comes from donations,” said Troxell.

The mock-ups he created show three unique figures on the memorial: “An elderly woman who has lost her family, a Vietnam veteran who represents a third of our homeless people who are on the streets, and a small child,” Troxell told KVUE.

Along with Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole, Austin City Councilman Mike Martinez supports the idea.

“This will be that reminder that this is an important issue. Every night 5,000 people live on the streets of Austin, and until we fix this problem, it's only going to cost us way more than $175,000,” he said.

Troxell wants to put the memorial right next to the existing plaque along the banks of Auditorium Shores. But the Parks and Recreation Department is concerned the statue may disturb the tree’s roots.

There has also been some criticism over the cost of the statue, even though the money is donated. Troxell says the attention, whether negative or positive, is a good thing because it gets people talking.

“I think it would mean they'd start to understand us and maybe feel good about giving towards us,” he said.

He hopes this $175,000 investment will bring in double or triple the donations.  

“This is a multi-billion dollar problem. If you have a multi-billion dollar building, you're going to have a sign in front of it. Well this is our sign."

Thursday morning at Austin City Hall, council members will open this project up to public input to decide the best possible location for the memorial and if it's something they are even willing to accept.

If you would like to donate towards the homeless memorial dubbed “The Homecoming,” click here.

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