AUSTIN, Texas - A plan to turn two city-owned properties in Austin into homeless camps could be taking a step forward Tuesday.
Austin City Council will hold a work session at 9:00 AM Tuesday. At that meeting, Homeless Strategy Officer Dianna Gray and Parks and Recreation Department Director Kimberley McNeeley will brief Council members about these two properties.
One of the sites is a former airport car lot on Manor Road between Pershing Drive and Greenwood Avenue in East Austin The other location is along Convict Hill Road between Mopac and Brodie Lane in South Austin.
Both of the properties are already owned by the city, and were earmarked to be developed into affordable housing. The plan is to use them as homeless camps temporarily.
If the plan moves forward, the idea is to use prefabricated structures called "micro shelters" to house people, not tents. Both locations are near Capitol Metro stops and have access to utilities. The city plans to put up fencing around each site and provide 24-hour security.
These two sites were selected by city officials from a long list of possible camps. In a statement Gray and McNeeley said, "After careful consideration and vetting of city-owned properties, staff has identified two sites as locations that meet most of the previously identified criteria for use as a legally designated encampments."
"There has to be a place, there has to be a place for the homeless, but not here. And if its claimed to be temporary, I really doubt that. Once it’s grown in I think it would be very hard to move it and that would be really very difficult for all neighbors, all of us", said Sandi Hemimsath, who lives near the Manor Road site, speaking to FOX 7’s Rudy Koski last week.
"I’m going to fight it. I’m going to do what ever I can do to fight this," said Debbie Swenson Hamilton, who lives next to the Convict Hill Site.
Depending on the outcome of Tuesday’s work session, city staff could begin the process of getting more feedback from residents in August. That would likely include community meetings and online surveys, as well as the chance to comment at Council meetings.
Also at Tuesday’s work session, Austin City Council is expected to discuss other topics related to homelessness—including legal issues related to the conversion of hotels into housing for the homeless.
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