City to use SE Austin site for Harvey shelter

It will be able to hold anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 people and is located in southeast Austin.

AUSTIN - Friday, Harvey evacuees in Austin are starting to move into a mega-shelter set up by the city.

It will be able to house anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 people and is located in southeast Austin at in an industrial park off Metropolis Drive, just west of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

The council voted to lease a 64,000-square-foot space and a 96,000-square-foot space at the building Thursday. The initial terms for the leases will be 30 days with an option to extend on a month-by-month basis. Other shelters in the Austin area will be consolidated into the shelter. City officials said this is a long term housing solution for evacuees, but before plans for the shelter were approved there was some concern over its location.

At Thursday’s emergency city council meeting, Council Member Delia Garza -- who represents District 2 where the shelter is located -- expressed concern over the quality of the environment. She stated the location of the shelter is in an industrial area with a plant that her constituents have expressed concern over. Garza was told an environmental site assessment had been done to make sure the area is safe. Another concern was access to resources.

"My other concern is that my district has food deserts and this is in my opinion.. not the best place for a shelter," Garza said. "I feel like they are going to be on an industrial island."

"As the shelter continues to evolve and grow we're going to be providing all sorts of services to help make their lives more comfortable and help them recover as an individual or as a community," said City Spokesman Jacob Dirr.

In terms of transportation, the city will be working with Capital Metro to help evacuees get where they need to go. Volunteers from the American Red Cross are also helping.

The shelter is zoned for Del Valle Independent School District, so another issue people are asking about is the district's plan to enroll evacuee students.

Friday, a spokesperson for the district said they have district representatives at the city's new shelter. They speak both English and Spanish and are helping parents go through the enrollment process. They'll be on hand for the foreseeable future to answer any questions that people have. The district is also trying to come up with a plan for getting students from the shelter to the schools.

 

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