Community reacts to council's plan to buy hotels for homeless

According to the Austin City Council's agenda, the city is looking to buy two hotels. "I'm kind of shocked that we weren't notified ahead of time," said Marie Chaudhari, the owner of the Hampton Inn.

One of the hotels is located in a residential area, sandwiched in between the Hampton Inn and Freda's Seafood Grill. "Right next to my business, next to the Hampton hotel, next to Freda's," Freda Cheng, the owner of Freda's Seafood Grill, said.

The city’s plan is to buy the hotel and turn it into housing for the homeless as part of the city’s hotel strategy. "Helping get people out of tents and off street corners and out from under underpasses and into permanent supportive housing where we find people can find the best use of services and better write their lives," Austin Mayor Steve Adler explained.


Those around the area say they had no idea this was in the works. "I found out yesterday in the news," explained Marie Chaudhari. "One of my customers call me and text me, that's how I find out," said Freda.

"The first time I found out about it was from a friend of mine who doesn't even live in the area," said Debra Degiovanni, a resident who has lived in the neighborhood since 2012.

Mayor Adler says if it was passed, then the city would have a conversation with those around the hotel. But Tuesday, business owners and neighbors came together to show they don't agree with this.

"I know the homeless need shelters need homes. But this is not really a good location, I believe," said  Marie Chaudhari. "It's not access accessible to public transportation services."

The hotel is located in council member Mackenzie Kelly’s district and she says she’s on her district's side. "I'm out here today because a lot of people who live over here and who have businesses in a district are upset, and rightfully so. I have legitimate concerns about the community around the hotel and how it'll be used."