Austin council members briefed on ongoing homeless crisis

At Wednesday's Public Health Committee, council members were briefed on how the city is addressing its ongoing homeless crisis. 

Interim Homeless Strategy Officer David Gray was the one to give the update.

"We're committed to getting people housed," he said.

He first gave an update on the Marshaling Yard, an emergency shelter, that began operations on August 22.

"I'm happy to share that we're currently at 200 clients being served on a daily basis at this facility," said Gray.

Currently, 200 is currently capacity for the new emergency shelter, but Gray says they are working to increase that number by 100 extra beds.

Gray also mentioned the Salvation Army agreed to the city’s leasing agreement for the facility. The city will do renovations before opening its doors to the unhoused.

Gray says the city still needs to work towards its goal of 1,428 shelter beds for single individuals by 2025. Currently, the city sits at 541 shelter beds.


"We are being responsive to this by bringing on the Marshaling Yard and will be able to temporarily provide 450 beds. Yet the challenge remains that we need to identify 772 permanent beds for the system," he said.

Gray presented his estimated price tag for 772 beds to council.

"A figure just north of $26 million being the cost that we estimate to bring those 772 beds online," he said.

The city is still working to house the homeless through its HEAL initiative. Recently, the city completed its 15th HEAL initiative project by moving 635 people into bridge shelters. Out of that number, 335 people were connected to a case manager.

"Of the 335 people, 208 have been housed so far with 44 people completing the program. Completing the program means that they've successfully completed the 12 to 18 month rapid rehousing program, and now they are living independently as members of our community," said Gray.