Mayor Adler discusses lessons learned about addressing homelessness from West Coast trip

Mayor Steve Adler came back from his trip to the West Coast excited to get back to work.

After seeing homelessness magnified on a larger scale, it reassured him the Council is doing what they believe is right in addressing the issue before the situation goes from bad to worse.

"If you ask them what they had wish they had done they would've said they wished they had acted sooner before their challenges just multiplied and mushroomed," Adler said.

Adler said he witnessed Los Angeles's homeless crisis first-hand by walking along Skid Row with local law enforcement.

"It's an area that kind of looks like our ARCH but it's six or eight blocks square and when you are presented with that measure of a challenge it is absolutely overwhelming," said Adler.

According to Los Angeles’s homeless population point in time count, there are 27,221 unsheltered homeless people this year. In Austin, there are 2,255, a scale that Mayor Adler said the city will not reach if adequate housing is found.

"That's the lesson overwhelmingly, build more homes, build more opportunities so there are places for people to go,” Adler said. "We have shelter capacity in our city that we're not using right now because we don't have resources to provide the support services to operate them to full capacity.

Adler took note of bridge housing in both L.A and Seattle. Bridge housing are temporary places for people to stay who are transitioning off of the street and into permanent housing, a concept council members want to see come to life in the proposed homeless shelter in South Austin.

"They are not walk-in locations, people can't just show up and want to get in, there is no camping or people loitering or convening outside of these structure, you can only get inside if you are invited inside," said Adler.

Gov. Greg Abbott has slammed the council's move to change its homeless ordinances. On Thursday Abbott said there are other options than people camping on Congress, urging communities to take a look at what Haven for Hope has done for homeless people in San Antonio.

Adler said the council has reviewed San Antonio practices and adds that Haven for Hope has a hefty budget.

"If the governor really wanted to help us I would point out to the governor that the state of California decided last week to give Los Angeles $145-million dollars to address their homelessness challenge," Adler said. "Now I am not asking the governor for $145-million dollars but support from the state to deal with this challenge recognizing that it's about homelessness is really important."

The council has directed City Manager Spencer Cronk to come up with a plan of steps to address the homelessness issue by August.