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[Speaker: Mackenzie Kelly City Council Member - District 6]

[00:00:08]

OKAY, THANK YOU, FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS.

THANK YOU ALL FOR BEING HERE TODAY AND FOR WATCHING I'M AUSTIN CITY, COUNCIL, WOMAN, MACKENZIE KELLY.

I REPRESENT DISTRICT SIX IN NORTHWEST AUSTIN.

THERE'S A LOT OF DISCUSSION IN THE COMMUNITY AND THE MEDIA ABOUT CANDLEWOOD SUITES IN OUR DISTRICT.

I'M HERE NOW TO LET YOU KNOW THAT I AM BOTH FRUSTRATED AND APPALLED BY WHAT I'VE LEARNED HAS TRANSPIRED OVER THE LAST FEW DAYS BEFORE I GET INTO THAT, I WANT TO THANK THE HOMELESS STRATEGY OFFICE FOR THEIR SWIFT RESPONSE AND TRANSPARENT RESPONSE TO THIS INCIDENT.

THEY ARE DOING A COMMENDABLE JOB WITH THIS LOCATION AND ALL THAT HAS TRANSPIRED THERE.

THEIR OFFICE, ALONG WITH SEVERAL OTHER CITY DEPARTMENTS HAVE BEEN ADDRESSING THIS ISSUE SINCE IT WAS RAISED BY MY OFFICE.

IT WAS BROUGHT TO MY ATTENTION BY A MEMBER OF THE COMMUNITY THAT A BREAK-IN SQUATTING AND SUBSEQUENT CRIMINAL MISCHIEF HAD OCCURRED.

THURSDAY, MAY 5TH AT CANDLEWOOD.

I IMMEDIATELY REACHED OUT TO THE RESPONSIVE CITY DEPARTMENTS TO GATHER INFORMATION.

IT WAS STATED IN THE FIRE REPORT THAT AN ALARM HAD BEEN ACTIVATED BY THE FIRE DEPARTMENT AND OFFICERS UPON ARRIVING, OBSERVED PEOPLE LIVING IN THE HOTEL.

I TOOK THAT INFORMATION TO THE HOMELESS STRATEGY OFFICE, AS WELL AS THE CITY MANAGER'S OFFICE, DUE TO THESE QUICK ACTIONS ON BEHALF OF MY OFFICE IN THE CITY DEPARTMENTS, I CAN ASSURE YOU THAT THE CANDLEWOOD IS NOW SECURED.

THERE IS AN INVESTIGATION BY CITY STAFF TO DETERMINE HOW THIS OCCURRED AND WHAT IF ANY SECURITY WAS ONSITE.

BEFORE YESTERDAY AFTERNOON, I VISITED THE CANDLEWOOD SUITES TO VIEW AND ASSESS THE DAMAGE FIRSTHAND AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH STAFF WAS ONSITE AND SHOWED ME THE EXTENT OF THE DAMAGE.

AS YOU CAN SEE HERE AND HERE, UM, THIS DAMAGE SPANS ALL THREE FLOORS OF THE BUILDING AND NEARLY EVERY ROOM.

AS YOU CAN SEE FROM THIS SMALL COLLECTION OF IMAGES, NEARLY EVERY DOOR IS BASHED IN CLOTHING, BELONGINGS AND TRASH ARE STREWN THROUGHOUT THE PROPERTY.

AND SEVERAL TELEVISIONS WERE RIPPED FROM THE DRYWALL AND WILL, UM, WERE STOLEN.

THE ENTIRE HOTEL WAS STRIPPED OF COPPER WASHERS, DRYERS, AIR CONDITIONING SYSTEMS AND ELECTRICAL WIRING WERE DESTROYED.

CITY STAFF INFORMED ME THAT AN INDUSTRIAL ICE MACHINE WAS RIPPED FROM THE WALL, WHICH MOST LIKELY CAUSED WATER DAMAGE TO THE FIRST FLOOR OF THE BUILDING.

THE DRY WALL WILL HAVE TO BE REMOVED TO PREVENT MOLD FROM GROWING.

I WANT TO BE CLEAR.

THIS ACT OF CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR IS NOT OKAY.

OUR CITY HAS A GOAL OF CREATING A SAFE AND SUSTAINABLE PLACE FOR THOSE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS.

THE CRIMINAL ACTIVITY AT CANDLEWOOD DOES NOTHING BUT HARM OUR CITY AND CREATE FURTHER DELAY IN HELPING TO REACH THE CITY'S GOAL OF PROVIDING HELP AND HOUSING TO PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY THAT NEED IT.

THE MOST.

OUR CITY IS ON TRACK TO DISCUSS AN ITEM ON MAY 19TH TO CONTRACT WITH FAMILY ELDER CARE IN ORDER TO BEGIN RENOVATIONS TO THE PROPERTY SO THAT 78 ROOMS BECOME AVAILABLE AS PERMANENT SUPPORTIVE HOUSING.

UM, THESE ROOMS WOULD BE READY TO RECEIVE ADULTS THAT ARE 55 AND OLDER WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED CHRONIC HOMELESSNESS IN OUR COMMUNITY PLANS TO RENOVATE THIS PROPERTY INCLUDE A BEAUTIFUL GARDEN OFFICES FOR WRAPAROUND SERVICES AND COMMUNITY PROGRAMMING FOR ITS RESIDENTS.

I HAVE HAD CONVERSATIONS WITH THE AUSTIN POLICE DEPARTMENT AND THE WILLIAMSON COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE RELATED TO THIS INCIDENT.

BOTH AGENCIES ARE WORKING TOGETHER TO INVESTIGATE THE CANDLEWOOD INCIDENT AND TO KEEP OUR RESIDENTS BOTH HOUSED AND UNHOUSED SAFE.

THIS BLATANT ACT OF DISREGARD AND CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR WILL NOT BE TOLERATED IN OUR COMMUNITY.

I HAVE SPOKEN WITH CITY LEGAL AND REQUESTED AN EXECUTIVE SESSION FOR THE MAY 19TH COUNCIL AGENDA TO DISCUSS FUTURE CONCERNS RELATED TO SECURITY AT VACANT CITY PROPERTIES, I HAVE INDICATED TO THE CITY MANAGER A REQUEST FOR ROUND THE CLOCK SECURITY AT CANDLEWOOD TODAY, IT WAS CONFIRMED BY CITY STAFF THAT THE CITY IS SEEKING TO ARRANGE ONSITE 24 HOUR SECURITY, WHICH WILL STAY IN PLACE UNTIL A FACILITY OPENS UP AS PERMANENT SUPPORTIVE HOUSING.

I AM THANKFUL TO BE IN AN ELECTED POSITION TO SUPPORT THE WHOLE COMMUNITY AND DISCUSS THESE ISSUES WITH MY COLLEAGUES.

IT IS VERY ENCOURAGING TO ME THAT OUR CITY STAFF HAS WORKED QUICKLY TO ADDRESS THIS ONGOING ISSUE AND WORK TOWARDS SOLVING THE PROBLEM.

ONE FINAL NOTE HERE AS YOUR COUNCIL MEMBER, MY JOB IS TO NOT ONLY BE A STEWARD OF THE TAXPAYERS' MONEY, BUT ALSO TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF RESIDENTS IN THE AREA.

THIS INCLUDES THOSE THAT ARE HOUSED AND UNHOUSED.

I ENCOURAGE AND WELCOME THE PUBLIC'S INPUT.

AND I WANT TO ENSURE THAT WE ARE ABLE TO ADDRESS ISSUES IN THE CITY AS THEY ARISE.

PLEASE CONTACT MY OFFICE WHENEVER YOU HEAR ABOUT SOMETHING IN THE COMMUNITY SO THAT WE CAN ADDRESS IT QUICKLY.

IF ANYONE

[00:05:01]

HAS INFORMATION RELATED TO THESE CRIMINAL ACTS AT CANDLEWOOD, I ENCOURAGE YOU TO CALL CRIME STOPPERS AT (512) 472-8477 THAT'S (512) 472-8477.

OR PLEASE JUST CALL 9 1 1.

THANK YOU ALL FOR BEING HERE.

I CAN TAKE QUESTIONS IF THERE ARE ANY FROM, FROM THE MEDIA I AM NOT CERTAIN HOW LONG THOSE INDIVIDUALS WERE STAYING THERE, BUT I DO KNOW THAT THE LAST TIME BEFORE THIS INCIDENT WAS DISCOVERED, CITY STAFF HAD BEEN THERE A WEEK PRIOR OTHER THAN BEING ANGRY.

IT TOOK ME A LONG TIME TO ARTICULATE THE RIGHT WORDS, TO DESCRIBE WHAT I SAW AND FOR ME PICTURES TO SHOW EVERYONE ELSE WHAT HAPPENED TO REALLY DESCRIBE THE SITUATION WAS THE BEST COURSE OF ACTION.

THE DAMAGES ARE STILL BEING ESTIMATED AND ASSESSED AT THIS TIME.

THAT WOULD BE A QUESTION FOR THE POLICE DEPARTMENT, BUT IT IS MY UNDERSTANDING THAT THESE ARE CRIMINAL ACTS THAT DO DESERVE TO BE FOLLOWED UP WITH A COURT THAT WILL MAKE IT JUST, AND RIGHT, THIS IS NOT OKAY FOR ANYONE IN OUR COMMUNITY EXPERIENCE, ESPECIALLY THE CITY OF AUSTIN WHO IS TRYING TO MAKE A GOOD FOURTH AND NOBLE EFFORT TO HELP HOUSE PEOPLE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS.

THIS DOES NOTHING MORE THAN TO SET US BACK AND DELAY US FROM REACHING OUR GOAL.

OKAY, GREAT.

THANK YOU SO MUCH, EVERYBODY.

* This transcript was compiled from uncorrected Speech-to-Text.