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City of Austin working to prevent fires at encampments

Leaders with the City's Homeless Strategy Division said multiple departments are coordinating fire risk mitigation and working on educational materials.

AUSTIN, Texas — As fires continue to spark across Central Texas, the City of Austin's Homeless Strategy Division gave an update on Wednesday night on how it's handling fires in parks and camps.

Leaders with the City's Homeless Strategy Division said multiple departments are coordinating fire risk mitigation and working on educational materials to provide to people who live at camps. The division is doing routine cleaning and encampment fire debris reduction.

Dianna Grey, the homeless strategy officer, said the City's proposed budget includes increases to reduce accumulated fire and debris.  

As for the heat, the City has opened cooling centers at community centers and libraries. 

During the meeting, leaders also discussed the Finding Home ATX program. The goal is to raise $515 million to house 3,000 people in three years.  

"In order to achieve that, [we're] really recognizing how difficult our housing market is. We intend to create 1,300 brick-and-mortar units that are set aside for that population. And then finally, we're really making some investments in strengthening our homeless response system," Grey said.

Those 1,300 units are expected to be completed by the end of 2024. Some are already in the works and are set to open late 2022 and early 2023. 

As of April, Grey said the City raised 82% of its $515 million goal for the project.

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) will be used to fill gaps between private and other government funding. The ARPA funds total $106.7 million and are divided into three phases. Phase one is housing stabilization, phase two is crisis response and phase three is supportive services.

The Homeless Strategy Division team also gave updates on the encampment management. Another update is set in three months. 

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