Urban Land Institute study says City of Austin should relocate homeless shelter

A study by private sector developers the Urban Land Institute suggests moving the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless. The ever-growing homeless population surrounding the ARCH in downtown Austin has spilled over into the entertainment district.

“We never felt that the Austin downtown area was the appropriate place for the ARCH because it's the Austin entertainment district,” said homeless advocate and founder of House the Homeless, Richard Troxell. 

In their report, the Urban Land Institute suggests the City of Austin find a new home for the shelter.

“The number of beds falls short of meeting the nightly demand for this population,” said Christine Maguire with the City of Austin Economic Development Department.

Troxell said when the city was debating where to put the facility; he suggested they find a 3 acre property elsewhere in the city.

“We had two sites in mind. One was far west and one was far east Austin,” said Troxell.

Instead the city chose the downtown property, which is smaller than a city block.

“We needed capacity for, even at that time, over 100 beds and all it could fit was 100 at that time,” Troxell said. 

Besides size issues, Troxell worried about temptations in the downtown area.

“People that are trying to deal with their substance abuse problems are completely surrounded with entertainment drugs,” he said. 

Those in favor of keeping the ARCH downtown cite proximity to homeless services.

“The issue at hand is, is there sufficient support for this vulnerable population in a location that can help this most vulnerable population get the services they need?” said Maguire. 

Troxell said service providers should be willing to bring their assistance to an area that can better care for those in need.

“That is something that we as a community should collectively address,” Maguire said. 

While Troxell is still adamant about finding a bigger property in a less tempting environment, the city believes there may be ways to expand the shelter without relocating.