Residents concerned about homeless shelter plans, changes to ordinances

Sitting at her kitchen counter Friday, Cleo Petricek, played through Thursday night's Austin City Council hearing.

From her laptop, she read excerpts from the comments she prepared. “Over 3,000 people live within a half mile radius and over 23,000 people live within a mile radius. The proposed location is within walking distance about half a mile from an elementary school…” 

Like many South Austinites, Petricek chose to speak out against the location for a new homeless shelter -- Ben White Boulevard and Bannister Lane. 

Despite Petricek, and others pleas, city council approved the $8.6 million emergency shelter. “It felt like the vote was rigged.” she said. “It kind of feels like this was something that was decided way before getting the neighborhood involved, getting schools and businesses involved.”

She made a petition, opposing the shelter's location.

In the description, she expressed concern with the concentration of homeless encampments along the 290 corridor. She believes the new shelter, combined with recent changes to the city's camping and sit and lie ordinances, may exacerbate the issue. 

“We care for [those who are homeless] and we want them to have resources. However putting them in an environment where we already have a concentrated area of homeless in South Austin, and exacerbating that with a 100 bed facility of residents that could walk out if they're not following the rules, how does that make any sense?” she asked. 

Joseph Paul May was released from prison last Friday, and is currently homeless. 

He said the new shelter was “cool,” but felt there was a greater need for other things. “People give out shelter, I mean it doesn’t really get hot, doesn’t really get cold. People give out food, so really the only thing people need to get on their feet is probably like clean clothes.”



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