Save Austin Now calls for audit of city's spending on homeless

Nonprofit "Save Austin Now" is calling for a "thorough and independent" audit of the city of Austin's spending on homeless programs.

The organization wants the audit to especially focus on housing facilities purchased by the city since July 1, 2019, when the initial changes to the homeless camping ordinances went into effect, including any information on commissions related to property purchases and sales.



"Taxpayers deserve to know how $160 million were spent over fiscal years 2018-2020 and what we have to show for it," co-founder Matt Mackowiak said in a release. "Because it appears the money has been widely spent on waste, with precious little new homeless housing being made available despite massive investment."

Mackowiak says that an audit "will reveal how every dollar was spent and should include comprehensive details about what benefit those dollars provided to our homeless community."

RELATED: Austin buys hotel to transform into supportive housing for homeless

Last week, Austin City Council voted to purchase the Texas Bungalow Hotel & Suites off of Burnet Road in North Austin. The price of the 3-year-old, 65-room-hotel is expected to near $7 million. After renovations, it should offer about 60 permanent supportive housing units designed to get people off the street and keep them housed. 

RELATED: Austin City Council approves purchase of hotel for homeless housing

Council is expected to vote this week to purchase another hotel, Candlewood Suites, located on Pecan Park Blvd in North Austin. On Sunday, dozens gathered to protest the proposed purchase with community members audibly voicing their displeasure as chants of "no to Candlewood" filled the sidewalk. 

"As the city proposes massive new public encampments and more motels and hotels for purchase, every Austinite should join our call for this timely audit," Mackowiak said.

RELATED: Abbott says Texas will reinstate ban on homeless camping if Austin doesn't

Members of "Save Austin Now" turned in over 27,000 signed petitions in mid-January, hoping to reinstate Austin’s homeless camping ban by getting it on the May 2021 ballotThe first effort to reinstate the ban was ruled invalid back in August, and they decided to try again starting December 1.

The nonprofit says the ordinance they're looking to put in front of voters reinstates the ban on homeless camping citywide, restores the sit/lie ordinance to downtown and extends it to the UT campus and surrounding area, and bans panhandling at night citywide from 7 p.m.-7 a.m.