State-owned homeless structures torn down to make room for new shelters

As homelessness continues to be a much-debated topic here in Austin, TxDOT crews tore down structures at the state-sanctioned homeless campsite near US 183 and SH 71.

It's in part of a long-term plan it's to make room for individual shelter units known as "Better Shelters."

"It's actually a good thing, we are making way for some individual shelter units to be put into their place," said Diann Hodges, a spokesperson with TxDOT

It's one of the first tangible efforts to help the homeless here in the city. But, its efforts are being run by the state, TxDOT, and a local nonprofit, The Other Ones Foundation


"They {the structures] will allow those who have been living in the bays a different, individual, kind of like a tiny-homes, a type of shelter they can live in while they are transitioning out of the current situation they are in," Hodges said. 

Max Moscoe with The Other Ones Foundation said 12 residents were displaced because of the structure being torn down. But, adds they have all been given alternative shelters on site.

TxDOT says as soon as the construction site is clear, the space will be free to use for the new shelters. "We wanted them to have a location where they could feel secure and have services brought to them, so that's why this location has worked out so well," Hodges said. 


Moscoe says that this has been the plan for a while. But now that these "Better Shelters" are being constructed, at a rate of about one and a half per day he said, it's finally able to happen.

"Our goal is to provide a safe and dignified shelter for people so they can get out of the elements and have some stability in their life while they work to get into stable housing and stable income," said Moscoe. 

Adding, while the topic of homelessness in the city is controversial it should be less of an illegal versus legal topic and more of an ethical conversation.

"At the end of the day, whether it's legal or illegal we know that we know that it is not a safe and dignified option for people to be living in the woods, or under overpasses," he said. 

170 people are currently registered at the campsite. Moscoe says this is the first step in getting them the help to get them back on their feet.

"It is definitely something that has needed to happen, and we are excited to offer this to folks," he said.