Adler suggests hotel occupancy tax increase to tackle homelessness

Austin Mayor Steve Adler is proposing a plan to address the homeless population downtown by having tourists pay for it.

AUSTIN – Mayor Steve Adler is proposing a plan to house the homeless population downtown by having tourists pay for it.

Adler said the hotel occupancy tax will go from 15 percent to the highest level allowed by the state: 17 percent.

Austin residents will not see their property taxes go up for the program, and the mayor's proposal still needs approval from city council. It proposes to raise $30 million in total for permanent housing for the homeless.

"Today finally, there is a path forward to get this work done," said Adler on Monday

The Austin Hotel and Lodging Association, which represents 40-50 percent of Austin hotels, said it is on board.

A spokesperson said the board voted unanimously in December to support the mayor's plan.

The JW Marriott in Austin said it is supportive of the mayor's plan. “We applaud Mayor Adler for researching and proposing a solution to help one of the city’s most vulnerable populations," said Scott Blalock, general manager of the JW Marriott Austin. "Every day, the city welcomes thousands of visitors who are looking forward to experiencing the city’s vibrant culture, and we want them to have the best possible experience.”

Some Austin residents said the plan is a sensible one.

"I am a homeowner, so I would rather see that than property taxes go up," said Whit Broders.

Others say Austinites should pay for the city's problems.

"I don't think it's the tourists responsibility to fix our problems," said Quinn Bohlmann. "It could cause them to not come here."

However, the city said the hotels will voluntarily increase the tax only if the city expands the convention center.

It's required by state law and it needs council approval.

The mayor's office said the first and second floors of the convention's expansion will be for retail and restaurants. Two towers will be built on top of the expansion, one for office use and one for affordable housing.

TAP HERE to read Mayor Adler’s proposal.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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