AUSTIN, Texas — Austin's hotels to house the homeless have been in the headlines pretty frequently recently.
From Prop B, one of the propositions on the May 1 ballot reinstating the homeless camping ban, to the controversial purchase of the Candlewood Suites in Williamson County, there's been a lot to discuss.
So we decided to ask the City of Austin about the pro-lodges, which are designed to provide a location for those who were at high risk of severe disease to have an opportunity to safely isolate to avoid possible infection, complications or hospitalization from COVID-19, and to decrease community spread of the virus.
Here's a breakdown of how occupied those hotels are.
Right now there are five pro-lodges that were acquired to house the homeless, with 340 rooms in all. Currently, 177 homeless people are staying in those rooms. The remaining rooms are either undergoing repairs, cleaning or getting ready for residents. Three of the five lodges are leased properties.
The City also said because those pro-lodges were designed to help with the COVID-19 emergency response, one of those pro-lodges will close in May.
"As we continue to see significant improvements in our community with our fight against COVID, ProLodge operations will also change and demobilize just as other COVID operations have been changing," a spokesperson for Austin Homeland Security and Emergency Management said. "Pro-lodges are separate from other programs and operations that are being implemented to address homelessness within our community."
Austin also has a proposal to open a bridge shelter in another hotel soon. It would house the homeless that are getting ready to move into more permanent housing. There will not be an additional hotel added to operations, but one of the existing properties that has temporarily been used for pro-lodge emergency operations will have COVID-19 operations demobilized in early May. That property will then be utilized by homeless programs as the bridge shelter.
This past Sunday, another protest happened outside of the Candlewood Suites – the hotel located near Highway 183 and State Highway 45 that was recently approved to be purchased by the City of Austin to house Austin's homeless. Candlewood Suites is technically located in Williamson County, and Judge Bill Gravell said Mayor Steve Adler never told him about his plans for the hotel and that he didn't find out until the deal was finalized.
On May 1, voters in Austin will decide on Proposition B. It aims to reinstate the City of Austin's homeless camping ban, which was reversed in July 2019. Both support for and opposition to the proposition has been strong in the months leading up to the election.
PEOPLE ARE ALSO READING: