AUSTIN - Call it the state of the city.
How did Austin do this year making transportation better? Making Austin more affordable? What about the homeless population Downtown? Or fostering Austin's live music scene?
These are some of the most pressing issues in Austin. KVUE sat down for a one-on-one interview with Mayor Steve Adler to see what he believes he's accomplished in 2017 and what he still needs to work on in 2018.
In a letter addressing his goals for 2017, Adler made homelessness Downtown one of his biggest priorities.
"We had initiated the Veteran's Homelessness Initiative and in this past year we did our first count, and the numbers for homeless people in the community were down by several hundred. Most specifically our vets, which is what we had focused on,” said Adler.
A new housing development for veterans and homeless opened this year off South Lamar Boulevard.
In 2016, Mayor Adler announced that Austin had effectively ended veteran homelessness. In two years time, the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition said 682 homeless veterans have been housed and Austin has a system in place to make sure if a homeless veteran is identified, they will be housed within 90 days.
This year, city council also gave the green light to fund more than $200,000 for a Homeless Outreach Street Team, or HOST.
HOST is comprised of mental health providers, Austin police, EMS and the Downtown Austin Alliance as well as Community Court. The team works on the street to work with the homeless population and get them help.
The city also completed a 30-day program to deal with crowding and drugs outside the ARCH, Austin Resource Center for the Homeless.
KVUE first reported that Austin police made nearly 100 arrests of drug dealers while targeting homelessness Downtown.
The real test of Adler’s program will come in 2018 when the city does its annual homeless count for HUD, the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
For the past seven years, homeless numbers have remained fairly consistent in Austin.
Next, Mayor Adler said he plans to address affordability in 2018.
2017 saw the lowest unemployment rate in Austin since 2000.
Adler said moving forward he wants to pass Code NEXT, which is the first major rewrite of Austin’s Land Development Code in 30 years. He believes Code NEXT will help add more affordable housing in Austin. To read more about Code NEXT, go here.
After years of Austin residents' concerns about increasingly high water bills, Adler said he will try and lower the water rates In 2018.
Mayor Adler also focused on Austin’s music scene in 2017. The Red River Music Pilot Program extended the hours for outdoor live music in the Red River District until 1 a.m. on weekends.
"Help clubs make more money, artists make more money,” explained Adler.
He said it also meant “finding the right balance between sound and neighborhoods” to appease both homeowners and nightclubs Downtown.
Finally, one of, if not the biggest priority for Mayor Adler moving forward, will be transportation in Austin.
Projects from Mayor Adler’s $720 million Mobility Bond passed in 2016, are already underway around the city.
“By the end of next year, almost 30 miles of sidewalks and safe routes to schools will be completed,” Mayor Adler told KVUE. “We should also have worked through by now on 10 of the most dangerous intersections in the city."
Adler said they will work on funding and final plans to fix some of the city’s most congested roadways, including Highway 360.
"Get rid of all the traffic lights and create grade-separated intersections," Adler said.
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