Salvation Army extends downtown homeless shelter operations for up to 30 days

The Salvation Army of Austin has extended its downtown shelter operations for up to 30 days thanks to city funding, according to Austin Public Health's Homeless Strategy Division.

This comes almost a month after the organization announced the shelter, which houses 100 homeless Austinites, would be permanently closing on March 15, prompting residents and advocates to protest.

The decision to continue operations was prompted after the City Council's Public Health Committee expressed concerns about the shelter's planned closure and its impact on clients; committee members requested the shelter extend its operations to allow for safe relocation of its clients.

The extension will cost up to $100,000 of city funds.

Staff within the Homeless Strategy Division reported to the council that they and community partners have identified alternative shelter or housing for the approximately 50 remaining residents in the shelter; these clients will likely be accommodated in a variety of settings, including other local shelters, apartments, transitional housing programs, board and care homes, and hotel stays.

"Addressing this crisis in such a short period of time has only been possible through the collaboration and creativity of our community partners - over a dozen of whom have stepped forward to offer shelter beds, housing and other resources," Homeless Strategy Officer Dianna Grey said. "We also appreciate the willingness of The Salvation Army to extend operations to allow for a more thoughtful transition."

Clients were reassured by the Homeless Strategy Division that they would be offered a local placement before the shelter closes.

"The residents of The Salvation Army should never have been left in limbo as they were, but I truly appreciate that folks from our Homeless Strategy Division and Austin Public Health have stepped in to help the residents with compassion and urgency to ensure everyone has a safe space to stay," Mayor Kirk Watson said. "While this is a temporary solution to an emergency, the work done here represents the kind of responsive service the City is now delivering to all its residents."

Next steps include communication and dialogue with clients, completing the process of matching clients to available locations and coordinating logistics of program intake, transportation and move-in.