Massive cleanup, removal of tents at the ARCH begins next week
AUSTIN, Texas - It's not known exactly when those who are camping in front of the ARCH will be moved out on Monday, October 28th but the move is happening, according to officials at the center. "This is absolutely a time of, it’s all hands on deck,” said Greg McCormack with front steps.
McCormack and his staff have already started preparing for what’s expected to be a small scale evacuation. "We are trying to get a, by name list, so we know everybody who is out there, what their name is and what their needs are. Not just their needs but what they will accept as their next step,” said McCormack.
The transient community started setting up tents at the ARCH this past summer.
It happened after the city council struck down an ordinance outlawing the practice.
Thursday, the council reinstated part of the ban after a loud outcry by business owners and residents.
"I heard that and I'm very, very, concerned,” said Susan Peake.
The flip flop gives people like Susan Peake very little time to find a new place. "I'd have to do something. I don’t really have anywhere I can go. I'd have to sleep illegally probably at a business property,” said Peake.
The crisis plan, according to McCormack, involves a coalition of advocates. The ARCH will set up about 50 extra cots, expanding overnight capacity to around 150. The Salvation Army is to find extra space for women.
Safe Alliance is to target women who are living in camps to escape abusive. "We've come together and said we are going to focus on this thing. This is not going to end homelessness in Austin, but we are going to do everything we can to ensure everybody who is staying out here, who is not going to be allowed to stay out here in the very near future has somewhere to go, has a better option,” said McCormack.
Shelter rules are also being suspended.
There are now kennels for those who have dogs and large bins with locks for temporary storage of property.
Even those who have been kicked out for bad behavior in the past will be given another chance.
A second move out is expected to take place after November 1st. It involves camping under and around highway bridges.
Officials with TxDOT tell FOX 7 they're waiting for direction from Governor Greg Abbott.
He set the November deadline to force the city to reinstate the camping ban.
"I think it is going to more like a hurricane, than just a matter of fact you got to move on,” said Peake.
Despite running out of time, McCormack remains optimistic. "We've got additional resources right now, this is a good time for someone to come in and start working for us, because our goal is to house everybody who is out there, within the next month or two,” said McCormack.
Several people who spoke FOX 7 outside of the ARCH believe the city should convert some of the schools, that may be closed, into transitional housing or use empty warehouse buildings for housing.
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