Nearly 50 people left homeless campground in Austin

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The city of Austin moved 48 people from a homeless campsite to the Ben White Boulevard and Menchaca Road underpass this week as part of the HEAL initiative.

AUSTIN, Texas – The city of Austin this week moved 48 people from a homeless campsite in the underpass at Ben White Boulevard and Menchaca Road, according to a press release.

The nearly 50 homeless people are now staying temporarily at the Southbridge shelter. The City-owned Southbridge Hut has 75 rooms.

This is the second camp site cleared under the Housing-Based Camp Assistance Link, or HEAL initiative. Twenty people were moved from the first HEAL site to the Terrazas Library in June.

“This week shows what we can do as a community by working together to resolve dangerous settlements,” Dianna Gray, city of Austin’s homeless strategy manager, said in the press release. “Homeless people are eager to get off the streets when we are able to provide decent shelter and real resources to find housing.

The City is providing temporary shelter and a path to permanent housing by the end of the summer for people living in four homeless camps across the city through the HEAL initiative. The four campsites are in Southcentral, East, Downtown and Northwest Austin, according to the press release.

Once people already accommodated at the shelter are transferred to permanent accommodation, their rooms will become available.

According to the statement, city staff continue to work with Austin City Council to convert city-owned properties to settlements. Earlier this month, only two of the city’s 78 possible locations for a sanctioned homeless camp were still in the running.

The board adopted the HEAL initiative in February.

In April, city leaders set a goal of housing 3,000 homeless people over the next three years at the Summit to Address Homelessness in Austin. The plan aimed to house 100 people by June 2021 and 200 by August.

In an update on this first June milestone, a summit spokesperson said 79 people were moved to “stable housing” from April 1 to June 30, according to data from the Homeless Management Information System.

“These results represent only those housed in permanent supportive housing and rapid relocation solutions,” said the spokesperson. “The numbers do not reflect people reached through diversion programs, temporary shelters or designated camps such as the Esperanza community. For example, around 70 people are now accommodated in the shelter in the town of Southbridge and will eventually be placed in permanent accommodation.

Phase 3 of the city’s homeless camping ban began on Sunday July 11.

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