Austin City Manager proposes historic $62.7M to address homelessness in 2020 budget

On Monday afternoon, Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk laid out the City’s 2020 budget.

Among the expenditures is the largest sum of money in Austin's history dedicated to helping the homeless: nearly $63 million.

Mayor Steve Adler, along with the Austin City Council, were present at LifeWorks Austin for Cronk's proposed $4.2 billion budget with $1.1 billion in the general fund.

What we're starting to see is a major city bracing for the impacts of what the State of Texas decided to do this legislative session by implementing property tax revenue caps. Cronk is proposing setting the tax rate at the full eight percent rollback threshold.
The $63 million for homelessness is broken up into three categories:

  • Housing Displacement Prevention ($20.4 million) for programs like homeowner repair and rental assistance to keep people in their homes in the first place
  • Crisis Mitigation ($23.9 million) for current and future emergency shelters, mental health, homeless camp clean-up and portable toilet maintenance
  • Re-Empowerment ($18.4 million) for programs like permanent supportive housing and apartment vouchers

Also included in the homeless spending are $1.3 million for plumbing and lighting repairs at the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH) and $1.5 million for the as-yet-to-be-determined places the City will most likely dedicate to homeless camping.

“These are American citizens that fell between the cracks that we need to help out so I am so proud of my City Manager for coming up and finding these type of solutions,” said Council Member Sabino “Pio” Renteria.

“It’s important to note that this budget that we’re doing this year that only increases expenses for people by 2.5% considering taxes and utilities, water and electric and all the fees — is a budget we could not do if next year’s rules were in place today,” Adler said referring to the upcoming revenue caps. “We could not make this historic investment in homelessness to deal with this challenge under next year’s rules.” 

According to a City breakdown, for a median non-senior home valued at about $359,000, homeowners are looking at an annual increase of about $100 over last year.