AUSTIN, Texas — Twenty people were moved from a homeless encampment in South Austin to temporary shelters on May 18, according to the City of Austin.
The people experiencing homelessness were moved to city-owned Northbridge and Southbridge shelters as part of the Housing-Focused Encampment Link (HEAL) initiative.
According to the city, HEAL closes homeless encampments that pose the highest public health and safety risks. Those moved are offered a transfer to shelter and a connection to housing resources.
"The HEAL Initiative continues to move people from the City’s most unsafe encampments into a shelter, with a clear path to housing. Along with expanding other community housing efforts, HEAL helps move the needle on homelessness in our community,” said City of Austin Homeless Strategy Officer Dianna Grey.
In the first phase of the initiative from June to Austin 2021, about 150 people were moved from high-risk encampments to shelters. Now, in the second phase of the initiative, 120 people have been moved to shelters.
The Homeless Strategy Division aims to shelter and house at least 200 people through HEAL this fiscal year, according to a release. The Homeless Strategy Division works closely with the Homeless Outreach Street Team (HOST), Downtown Austin Community Court, Integral Care, Front Steps and community partners.
The Austin City Council approved the HEAL initiative in February 2021. Last June, the council voted to dedicate $106.7 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds toward addressing homelessness, of which at least $6 million will be used for the initiative, according to the release.
Furthermore, the Travis County Commissioners Court voted in September 2021 to allocate $110 million in ARPA funds to build housing for people experiencing homelessness in the Austin area.
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