Austin City Council hears over 5 hours of public comment on homeless shelter, affordable housing

Austin City Council’s almost 200 item agenda resulted in over five hours of public comment. The main items spoken about were a temporary homeless shelter and an idea of turning single family lots into smaller, more affordable homes.

Over 100 people spoke at the podium to give their say during public comment on the council's extensive agenda. One of the main items up for debate: council member Leslie Pool's item 126, to turn single family lots into more affordable, smaller homes.

"I am just so against 126," said one Austin resident.

Some Austinites who spoke against the item questioned the impact it could have on the city.

"You put six houses on what used to be one lot, now two, where's that all going to go? We're going to end up with more sewer issues. Let alone the impacts to our power," said another resident.


However, many supported the item and said everyone should have the chance to live in Austin.

"We should not have to choose between staying in the city and having a family," said an Austin resident.

Supporters of the item said townhomes, rowhomes, triplexes and four-plexes will be affordable options.

"There are not enough townhomes, cottage homes, and condos for those who are just starting out, and these are often beautiful buildings," said an Austinite in support of item 126.

Other residents could not agree with that statement.

"I get it, but if you look it up, and you Google a row home in the Mueller, it's $700,000. That's not affordable. You just can Google that," said one resident against item 126.

Another hot button issue was agenda item 111. Many were against the idea of creating an emergency homeless shelter in a city-owned facility for a year. They said it seemed like a rushed project that would not help the homeless issue at all.

"I'm going to call the marshaling yard what I feel it is. It's a displacement project. It's just meant to get people out of the eyes. It's the ‘keep Austin pretty’ initiative. Mayor Watson, I heard you recently speak that you are committed to solving homelessness, but I'm concerned that what your focus seems to be is more on cleaning it up," said one resident during public comment.

The public speaker said a more permanent solution is needed and not a temporary one.

"I actually think it's trashy for us to be investing in these band-aid solutions on this gaping wound of homelessness. We are not addressing the root problem," said the same resident.

Item 111 passed.