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North Austin hotel to be converted into homeless housing community

Over 1,000 new apartments are being developed to serve the homeless over the next three years, the City said.

AUSTIN, Texas — A City-owned hotel in North Austin is being converted into an apartment community with support services to help individuals who are experiencing homelessness, City officials said Wednesday. 

The project is expected to cost $6,700,000, according to city documents.

Last week, the Austin City Council approved a contract to renovate a former hotel on Burnet Road and enter an agreement with Integral Care, the local mental health authority for Travis County, to operate the facility as Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH). 

Permanent Supportive Housing is a type of affordable housing that includes ongoing support services, such as case management, mental health care, substance use treatment, wellness services and employment services. It is designed for individuals living with disabilities who need housing assistance and ongoing support as they exit long-term homelessness.

"The services will provide really just kind of cover the whole ward of case management and skills training," said Ruth Ahearn, practice administrator of Housing and Health Care for the Homeless with Integral Care. "We can provide living skills, training to individuals, assistance with budgeting and ensuring their rent is paid on time."

Ahearn said the services will also include access to a psychiatrist. There will be a licensed clinician on-site, a part-time nurse and case managers. They'll be there to provide them with all the help and guidance they need.

The homeless housing community – named Bungalows at Century Park – will have 60 fully furnished studio apartments, resident common spaces and dedicated offices for delivery of social services, according to the City. The community will also have 24-hour onsite staffing, onsite security, a laundry facility and an outside gathering space. 

City officials said Integral Care services will be tailored specifically to support tenants managing chronic behavioral health conditions. 

“This new apartment building will advance our community’s efforts to address homelessness for many years to come,” said City of Austin Homeless Strategy Officer Dianna Grey. “It’s part of a broader citywide effort to ensure that hundreds of our most vulnerable neighbors are given the support they need to live healthy, stable, independent lives in the community.”

KVUE asked Ahearn how the application and lease process will work. She said 50 of the 60 units will have a subsidy voucher attached. 

"Individuals would go through an orientation and qualify for the voucher through the housing authority," added Ahearn. "That subsidy pays the rent. The individual also pays a rental portion, which is no greater than 30% of their income."

Ahearn also said individuals would have to sign a lease a year at a time. They are able to re-sign if they want to stay.

The 60 units planned for Burnet Road are part of a larger pipeline of over 1,000 new apartments being developed to serve the homeless over the next three years, officials said. Nearly 400 of the 1,000 planned units will be PSH.

“We’re excited to work with the City of Austin to bring even more permanent supportive housing to our community,” said Ahearn. “Transforming a former hotel into 60 units of permanent supportive housing is a creative way to expand the number of affordable, barrier-free units that our community so desperately needs. The Bungalows at Century Park will build on the success of other permanent supportive housing communities that improve the health and well-being of its residents and save our community dollars in public resources.”

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