AUSTIN, Texas — In the Austin City Council's first meeting of 2019, Council Members Ann Kitchen, Leslie Pool, Greg Casar, Pio Renteria and Mayor Steve Adler called for a pilot project to form a new immediate shelter and support services for people experiencing homelessness.

“The time for action is now,” said Council Member Kitchen. “Austin is seeing an increasing number of people in our community experiencing homelessness. This council has made reducing homelessness a top priority and providing immediate shelter and services is a critical action supported by national and local studies. Austin is a great city; no person should have to live under a highway.”

Item 78 asks City departments to create the project with Austin social service agencies along with the National Alliance to End Homelessness. The resolution calls for the shelter and services, with the intent of providing a pathway to permanent housing, to be open by Sept. 30.

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“We need to provide for our most vulnerable residents,” Council Member Pool said. “This pilot won’t solve all of our problems, but it is a key step in implementing our Strategic Housing Blueprint and bringing us closer to a long-term solution for homelessness.”

“The simplest way I’ve heard to express our challenge is this: we have more heads than beds. That’s why people are forced to seek shelter on the streets,” said Council Member Renteria. “The work this resolution initiates will help us provide the necessary shelter and services folks need to start on a path to permanent housing.”

“The community wants bigger, more effective, and more immediate responses to Austin’s homelessness challenge and the council needs to act,” added Mayor Adler.

“The City Council has clearly made tackling the homelessness crisis as one of the top priorities of 2019," said Council Member Casar. "This vote, on the first council meeting of the year, will develop a well-researched report on building more shelters as soon as possible, so that we can fund successful pathways to permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness this year.”