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[00:00:02]

GOOD

[Austin Homeless Strategy Officer Media Advisory Virtual News Conference]

MORNING.

I'M CRYSTAL WEBB, SENIOR PUBLIC INFORMATION SPECIALIST FOR AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH AND THE MODERATOR FOR TODAY'S VIRTUAL MEDIA AVAILABILITY ON ADDRESSING HOMELESSNESS.

SPANISH INTERPRETATION IS AVAILABLE ON AX AND THREE TO START, WE WILL HAVE OPEN REMARKS BY DIANA GRAY, HOMELESS STRATEGY DIVISION, OFFICER AUSTIN, PUBLIC HEALTH FOLLOWED BY LIEUTENANT LAUREN DAVIS, AUSTIN POLICES DEPARTMENT, AND LAURA LATA.

LINTA HEALTH EQUITY AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT DIVISIONAL SYSTEM, AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH.

WE WILL THEN OPEN UP TO OUR POLL REPORTER WHO WILL ASK QUESTIONS ON BEHALF OF THE MEDIA, DIANA GRAY, OVER TO YOU.

THANK YOU, PRISCILLA.

AND GOOD MORNING.

UM, I WANNA THANK YOU FOR JOINING US AS WE TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO HIGHLIGHT THE WORK AT THE CITY OF AUSTIN AND REALLY IN THE COMMUNITY AT LARGE, TO ADDRESS THE CHALLENGING ISSUE OF HOMELESSNESS.

FIRST AND FOREMOST, I WANT TO SAY THAT WE KNOW BY EXPERIENCE AND BACKED BY HARD DATA THAT THE HOUSING PROGRAMS, OUR LOCAL NONPROFIT PARTNERS PROVIDE TO OUR UNHOUSED NEIGHBORS CAN END THEIR HOMELESSNESS.

WHEN PEOPLE MOVE INTO HOUSING WITH RENTAL ASSISTANCE AND CASE MANAGEMENT OVER 83% ARE STILL HOUSED TWO YEARS LATER.

HOWEVER, IN ORDER TO RESPOND TO THE INCREASE IN HOMELESSNESS IN AUSTIN OVER THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS, AND IN PARTICULAR, THE INCREASE IN UNSHELTERED HOMELESSNESS, THE PUBLIC SECTOR, AND THE PRIVATE SECTOR ALIKE HAVE RECOGNIZED THE NEED TO SCALE UP OUR EFFORTS TO RIGHT SIZE A SYSTEM, UM, TO FIT THE ACTUAL NEED IN THAT SPIRIT.

IN 2021, THERE WAS A SUMMIT, UH, THAT RESULTED IN A STRATEGY AND AN INITIATIVE NOW CALLED FINDING HOME ATX, WHICH SEEKS TO REHOUSE AN ADDITIONAL 3000 PEOPLE BY THE END OF 2024.

AND TO SECURE THE, THE EXPANDED RESOURCES NECESSARY TO DO JUST THAT.

SO FINDING HOME ATX HAS MADE SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS, UH, TOWARD ITS FUNDRAISING GOALS WITH OVER 82% OF FUNDING SECURED AT OUR LAST REPORT AND THE CITY'S OWN CONTRIBUTION TO THE EFFORT HAS BEEN VERY SIGNIFICANT.

UH, AT PRESENT, WE HAVE, UH, CONTRIBUTED ABOUT 50% OF THE OVERALL FUNDS SECURED TO DATE IMPORTANTLY, DEDICATING A HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS OF FEDERAL AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT, UH, FUNDS TO EXPAND HOUSING AND SERVICES FOR OUR UNHOUSED CITIZENS IN JUST THE PAST MONTH, COUNCIL HAS APPROVED ALMOST 19 MILLION IN NEW NONPROFIT CONTRACTS, UH, TO PROVIDE RAPID REHOUSING SERVICES, RAPID REHOUSING COMBINES TIME, LIMITED RENTAL ASSISTANCE WITH CASE MANAGEMENT TO HELP HOUSEHOLDS STABILIZE IN THEIR OWN HOUSING GROUPS LIKE FAMILY, ELDER CARE AUSTIN AREA, URBAN LEAGUE LIFE WORKS, ENDEAVORS AND FOUNDATION FOR THE HOMELESS WILL BE EXPANDING OR LAUNCHING NEW PROGRAMS. UM, AND WE WILL ALSO SOON BE, UH, SEEING EXPANSIONS IN SHELTER AND OUTREACH SERVICES IN ORDER TO MEET OUR GOALS OF MOVING PEOPLE OFF THE STREETS AND OUTTA SHELTERS, FINDING HOME ATX CALLED FOR THE CREATION OF 1300 NEW BRICK AND MORTAR HOUSING UNITS SET ASIDE FOR PEOPLE EXITING HOMELESSNESS.

TODAY, WE HAVE NEARLY A THOUSAND UNITS IN THE PIPELINE IN THE NEW YEAR CARITAS OF AUSTIN.

WE'LL OPEN A SPARROW AT RUTLAND, WHICH IS 171 UNIT, UH, DEVELOPMENT.

AND SOON THEREAFTER WE'LL BE SEEING NEW PSSH PROJECTS COMING ONLINE, OPERATED BY FOUNDATION COMMUNITIES, INTEGRAL CARE AND FAMILY ELDER CARE FOR A COMBINED TOTAL OF ANOTHER 200 UNITS.

THE NEWS IS NOT ALL ROSY.

UH, WE HAVE SEEN AS A COMMUNITY AT LARGE IS VERY AWARE, A DECREASING AFFORDABILITY IN OUR COMMUNITY, UH, RENTS THAT HAVE INCREASED, UH, EXTREMELY RAPIDLY.

AND WE HAVE SEEN EVICTION MORATORIA AND OVER THE LAST SEVERAL MONTHS, BECAUSE OF THAT, IT HAS BEEN MUCH MORE DIFFICULT FOR OUR NONPROFIT PARTNERS TO FIND UNITS IN THE COMMUNITY FOR PEOPLE THAT HAVE RENTAL ASSISTANCE AND CASE MANAGEMENT, BUT NEED TO FIND A UNIT.

SO WE DO NEED THE PRIVATE SECTOR TO PARTNER, UH, WITH THE HOMELESS RESPONSE SYSTEM TO HELP US LOCATE UNITS THAT PEOPLE

[00:05:01]

CAN MOVE INTO THE CITY ACTIVELY SUPPORTS THE ENDING COMMUNITY HOMELESSNESS COALITION, AND WE URGE, UH, LANDLORDS AND PROPERTY OWNERS ALIKE TO COORDINATE WITH ECHO WHO HELPS PEOPLE FIND UNITS IN THE PRIVATE MARKET.

WE KNOW THAT HELPING PEOPLE ACCESS PERMANENT HOUSING IS THE ONLY REAL SOLUTION TO HOMELESSNESS AND IT'S OUR NORTH STAR.

HOWEVER, WE ALSO KNOW THAT THAT'S GOING TO TAKE TIME AND WE CONTINUE TO WORK ON ADDRESSING THE IMMEDIATE CHALLENGES THAT ARE RELATED IN PARTICULAR TO UNSHELTERED HOMELESSNESS.

UH, SO I'VE ALREADY MENTIONED THE NON-PROFITS THAT, UM, ARE GOING TO BE EXPANDING THEIR PERMANENT HOUSING PROGRAMS, BUT WE WILL ALSO SOON HAVE ADDITIONAL CONTRACTS FOR BOOTS ON THE GROUND STREET OUTREACH AND INCREASES IN IMPROVEMENTS IN SHELTER CAPACITY, UH, AMONG THE CITY'S OWN INITIATIVES ARE THE HEAL INITIATIVE, WHICH HAS REPRESENTED THE HUMANE WAY TO MOVE PEOPLE FROM THE MOST UNSAFE ENCAMPMENTS AND INTO BRIDGE SHELTER, WITH A CONNECTION TO HOUSING SINCE ITS INCEPTION IN 2021, THE HEAL INITIATIVE HAS SERVED OVER 360 PEOPLE AND 111 OF THOSE PEOPLE ARE NOW IN THEIR PERMANENT HOMES.

WE'VE ALSO LAUNCHED A CROSS-DEPARTMENT HOMELESS ENCAMPMENT MANAGEMENT TEAM, WHICH IS A MULTI-DEPARTMENT GROUP THAT WILL COORDINATE THE MANAGEMENT OF PUBLIC SPACES, UH, AND INTERVENTIONS IN ENCAMPMENTS, WHICH WILL INCLUDE BOTH SOCIAL SERVICE SUPPORTS.

AND AT TIMES ENFORCEMENT, UH, IMPORTANTLY, WE'LL BE USING DATA TO PRIORITIZE OUR ACTIVITIES AND ENCAMPMENTS, TO USE OUR RESOURCES EFFICIENTLY, TO ENSURE TRANSPARENCY AND TO MAKE SURE THAT OUR AC INTERACTIONS WITH PEOPLE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS ARE AS HUMANE AS POSSIBLE.

SO THERE'S STILL MUCH TO DO, BUT WE BELIEVE WE ARE ON THE RIGHT PATH, UH, JOINED TODAY BY, UM, AS CHRIS OOLA MENTIONED BY LIEUTENANT LAWRENCE DAVIS OF P D AND LOUD LEFT WETE WITH AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH, I WILL PASS IT TO LIEUTENANT DAVIS FOR HIS OPENING REMARKS.

THANK YOU.

GOOD MORNING, EVERYONE.

I HOPE THAT EVERYONE IS ALL ALL AS WELL.

UM, I JUST WANT TO THANK YOU ALL FOR SHARING THIS SPACE WITH US, UH, FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO I'VE NOT HAD THE PRIVILEGE TO MEET.

MY NAME IS LIEUTENANT LAWRENCE LEE DAVIS.

I'M CURRENTLY ASSIGNED TO THE CHIEF'S OFFICE.

UM, IN ADDITION TO BEING IN EXECUTIVE LIEUTENANT, I OVERSEE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT EFFORTS AND MUCH OF OUR HOMELESS OPERATIONS.

UM, LET ME JUST SAY THAT AUSTIN POLICE DEPARTMENT RECOGNIZES THAT HOMELESSNESS IS A VERY COMPLEX ISSUE.

UM, IT'S ONE OF THOSE ISSUES THAT SURELY INVOLVES CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE, ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT, AND OFTEN REQUIRES A MULTI-AGENCY AND OFTEN JURISDICTIONAL RESPONSE, UM, UH, MANAGING PUBLIC SPACES.

IT JUST REQUIRES A CAREFUL BALANCING OF THE INTERESTS OF, OF ALL AUSTINITES INCLUDING THOSE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS.

UM, UH, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT VERY EARLY ON WE'VE RECOGNIZED AND MAINTAINED ALL ALONG IS THAT HOMELESSNESS IS A PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY ISSUE AND NOT SOLELY A LAW ENFORCEMENT ISSUE.

AND THEREFORE, UM, APD WOULD SEEK TO NOT BE THE TIP OF THE SPEAR, BUT RATHER A LINK IN THE CHAIN AND, YOU KNOW, UH, ME BEING CRITICAL OF OUR PROFESSION, WE'RE OFFERING IDENTIFYING WHAT WORKS AND WHAT DOES NOT WORK.

AND WHILE I'M MENTIONING THAT, I JUST WANNA SURELY ECHO WHAT DIANA HAS ALREADY SAID AND TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY TO THANK OUR PARTNERS THAT INCLUDE A MYRIAD AUSTIN CODE, UM, AUSTIN FIRE DEPARTMENT, PARKS AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT, UM, UH, AUSTIN, PUBLIC HEALTH, UH, AUSTIN PUBLIC LIBRARIES, PUBLIC WORKS.

IF I FORGET SOMEONE, UH, I APOLOGIZE, BUT AUSTIN RESOURCE RECOVERY PUBLIC WORKS, UH, DOWNTOWN AUSTIN ALLIANCE FOR WATERSHED AND THERE'S A MYRIAD OF OTHERS, BUT THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT IS THAT I THINK WE SHOULD CELEBRATE, UH, WHAT WORKS, UM, THAT CROSS-DEPARTMENT RESPONSE, UM, TO TAKE ON ISSUE.

UM, THAT'S SO COMPLEX AS AND CHALLENGING.

UM, THOSE CHALLENGES THAT HOMELESSNESS BRINGS IS WHAT WORKS.

SO, UM, I WANT TO JUST TAKE THE MOMENT TO THANK YOU ALL.

I HOPE I CAN OFFER SOME MEANINGFUL INFORMATION AND THEN I WILL PASS THE, PASS IT ALONG.

THANK YOU, DIANA.

GOOD MORNING.

MY NAME IS LA LAE, UH, WITH AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH, THE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF THE HEALTH EQUITY AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT DIVISION.

UM, I WANNA THANK YOU AGAIN FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE HERE AND SHARE A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE WORK OF THE HEALTH EQUITY AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT DIVISION, WHICH SUPPORTS A WIDE VARIETY OF SOCIAL SERVICES THAT ARE CRITICAL KIND OF FOR THE COMMUNITY, BUT ESPECIALLY WANTING TO HIGHLIGHT SOME OF THE WORK, UM, THAT IS BEING DONE TO, UM, SUPPORT PEOPLE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS.

UM, THE SERVICES THAT PART OF THE, ONE OF THE UNITS WITH OUR, WITH OUR DIVISION PROVIDES ARE SECURED THROUGH CONTRACTUAL AGREEMENTS WITH SOME OF OUR COMMUNITY PARTNERS.

UM, AND WE KNOW THAT FUNDING IS ESSENTIAL IN SUPPORTING AND INCREASING

[00:10:01]

THE CAPACITY IN OUR COMMUNITY.

UM, SO WE DO HAVE A COUPLE OF UNITS AND STAFF THAT ARE WORKING IN THAT VEIN.

UM, WE WILL CONTINUE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH, UH, HOMELESS STRATEGY DIVISION TO SUPPORT QUALITY SERVICES FOR THOSE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS AND SECURE THE CRITICAL ELEMENTS THAT ARE NEEDED, UM, TO ADDRESS THIS VERY CHALLENGING ISSUE.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU EVERYONE NOW TO OUR POOL REPORTER BEN THOMPSON FROM COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPERS.

GOOD MORNING.

UH, SO STARTING OFF WITH A QUESTION FROM, UH, ME, UH, I KNOW YOU TOUCHED ON THIS IN YOUR OPENING REMARKS A LITTLE BIT, BUT, UM, ABOUT HOW MANY PERMANENT SUPPORTIVE HOUSING UNITS ARE NOW IN DEVELOPMENT AND CONSTRUCTION CITYWIDE.

UH, AND WHEN DO YOU EXPECT SOME OF THOSE WILL BEGIN OPENING UP FOR MOVE-INS? THANK YOU, BEN.

UH, YES, AS I MENTIONED OF THE OVERALL GOAL OF 1300 UNITS OF HOUSING, THAT INCLUDES PERMANENT SUPPORTIVE HOUSING, AS WELL AS UNITS THAT ARE SET ASIDE FOR PEOPLE WHO MAY BE ENROLLED IN A RAPID REHOUSING PROGRAM WITH TIME LIMITED RENTAL SUPPORTS.

UH, WE HAVE ABOUT A THOUSAND UNITS IN THE PIPELINE AND THE PIPELINE INCLUDES THOSE PROJECTS THAT ARE ALREADY UNDER CONSTRUCTION AND THOSE PROJECTS THAT ARE STILL IN THE PROCESS OF ASSEMBLING THEIR FINANCING, GETTING THEIR PERMITS IN ORDER, ET CETERA, BUT HAVE ALREADY SECURED SIGNIFICANT, UH, FINANCING SO THAT WE FEEL CONFIDENT THAT THE PROJECTS WILL COME TO FRUITION.

UH, AS I SAID, THE FIRST PROJECT THAT WE WILL PROBABLY SEE COME ON LINE IS A SPIRIT RUTLAND IN JANUARY, UH, ROUGHLY OF NEXT YEAR.

AND WE WOULD EXPECT OVER THE NEXT SIX MONTHS, WE WOULD SEE THREE OF THE HOTEL CONVERSIONS, UH, COME ONLINE FOR AN ADDITIONAL 200 UNITS.

I DO WANT TO MENTION SEVERAL OF THE NONPROFITS ARE SPONSORING ADDITIONAL NEW CONSTRUCTION, SUPPORTIVE HOUSING.

MANY OF THEM ARE PART OF WHAT'S CALLED THE TEXAS SUPPORTIVE HOUSING, UH, EXCUSE ME, TRAVIS COUNTY, SUPPORTIVE HOUSING COLLABORATIVE WHO ARE ALL WORKING TOGETHER SUPPORTED IN FACT, UH, BY TRAVIS COUNTY APA FUNDS TO CREATE ABOUT 550 UNITS OF SUPPORTIVE HOUSING.

SO THOSE INCLUDE LIFE WORKS SAFE, CARITAS OF AUSTIN IN CARE, FAMILY, ELDER CARE AUSTIN AREA, URBAN LEAGUE.

UM, AND, UH, AND THERE WILL ADDITIONALLY BE SOME TRANSITIONAL HOUSING SPONSORED BY A NEW ENTRY.

SO ALL VERY ESTABLISHED AUSTIN NONPROFITS THAT ARE REALLY LEANING INTO CREATING THIS HOUSING, UH, THAT WILL HAVE VARYING COMPLETION DATES.

I ALSO WANT TO MENTION THAT, UM, COMMUNITY FIRST VILLAGE, OF COURSE, IS IN THE MIDST OF A SIGNIFICANT EXPANSION AND BECAUSE THOSE ARE INDIVIDUAL UNITS, THEY WILL BE GRADUALLY COMING ONLINE.

WE'RE VERY EXCITED ABOUT THAT.

UH, WE ALSO HAVE A VARIETY OF PRIVATE DEVELOPERS WHO ARE EITHER DEVELOPING, UM, PURPOSE SPECIFIC PERMANENT SUPPORTIVE HOUSING, OR SETTING ASIDE A FEW UNITS IN THEIR OTHERWISE AFFORDABLE HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS.

SO FOR EXAMPLE, KATIE LOFTS IN THE HANCOCK NEIGHBORHOOD WILL BE A HUNDRED UNIT PSSH PROJECT.

UH, AND IT HAS RECENTLY BEEN AWARDED, UH, ITS FINAL FINANCING THROUGH, UH, THE STATE TAX CREDIT PROGRAM AND OUR LOCAL RENTAL HOUSING DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAM, UH, AND SHOULD BE CLOSING FINANCING IN THE NEXT, UH, FEW MONTHS HERE NEXT UP FROM JESSICA TAYLOR AT CBS AUSTIN, UH, CITY COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY PASSED A RESOLUTION AIMED AT PROTECTING THE HOMELESS COMMUNITY FROM FALLING VICTIM TO HUMAN TRAFFICKING.

WHAT RESOURCES ARE YOU COMMITTING TOWARDS THAT? THANK YOU.

SO EXPLOITATION, UM, OF MANY TYPES AND TRAFFICKING OF COURSE HAPPEN ACROSS OUR COMMUNITY, BUT PEOPLE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS, UH, ARE PARTICULARLY VULNERABLE, UH, BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF SAFETY AND SOCIAL SUPPORTS IN MANY CASES.

AND SO THE RESOLUTION THAT COUNCIL PASSED DIRECTED STAFF IN PARTICULAR, TO ENSURE THAT HOMELESS SERVICE PROVIDERS ARE KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT HOW TO RECOGNIZE, UH, SITUATIONS INVOLVING EXPLOITATION, UH, OR SEXUAL TRAFFICKING.

AND SO WE OVER THE COMING MONTHS WILL BE FIRST ASSEMBLING STAKEHOLDERS WITH EXPERTISE IN THIS AREA.

WE HAVE INTERNALLY AT APH AND OFFICE OF VIOLENCE PREVENTION.

UH, A P D HAS EXPERIENCE IN THIS SPACE SAFE WILL HAVE IMPORTANT EXPERIENCE.

AND WE ANTICIPATE THAT THERE WILL BE SEVERAL OTHER ORGANIZATIONS THAT WILL HAVE MEANINGFUL INPUT TO DETERMINE WHAT THAT TRAINING LOOKS LIKE.

AND THEN, UH, WE, AS A HOMELESS STRATEGY DIVISION WILL DETERMINE HOW WE DELIVER THE TRAINING AND MAKE IT AVAILABLE TO ALL OF OUR CONTRACTED SERVICE PROVIDERS.

[00:15:01]

THANK YOU FROM KELSEY THOMPSON AT K X, A N UH, NEARLY HALF OF PEOPLE WHO EXITED A HEAL SHELTER ENDED UP RETURNING TO HOMELESSNESS.

WHAT IS THE DIVISION LEARNING ABOUT WHAT'S WORKING AND WHAT'S NOT, AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN RESPONSE? THANK YOU.

SO, FIRST OF ALL, I WOULD LIKE TO CLARIFY, UM, SOME OF THE STATISTICS ON THIS, AS I MENTIONED, THE HEEL INITIATIVE HAS SERVED OVER 360 PEOPLE, UH, 361 TO BE EXACT, SINCE IT WAS INITIATED, I IN 2021, UM, 117 OF THOSE INDIVIDUALS ARE STILL IN SHELTER.

IN THE PROCESS OF IDENTIFYING HOUSING, 108 HAVE BEEN HOUSED, UH, IN THEIR PERMANENT SPACE AND 118 HAVE EXITED SHELTER WITHOUT HOMELESSNESS.

THAT NUMBER FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE IS TOO HIGH AND WE WILL BE SEEKING TO DECREASE IT OVER TIME.

I'LL SPEAK IN A MOMENT TO THE STRATEGIES THAT WE'VE IDENTIFIED, BUT I DO WANNA CLARIFY THAT OF THOSE, UM, 118, ONLY 44 EXITED WITHOUT BEING CONNECTED TO LONGER TERM HOUSING RESOURCES.

SO WE MAY HAVE INDIVIDUALS WHO WERE IN SHELTER, WHO CONNECTED, UH, TO A LONG TERM, RAPID REHOUSING PROGRAM WHO ARE STILL WORKING WITH THEIR CASE MANAGERS TO IDENTIFY A, A PLACE TO MOVE AND WHO HAVE DEDICATED CASE MANAGEMENT RESOURCES BECAUSE OF THAT ONLY ABOUT 12% OF THE OVERALL POPULATION PARTICIPATING IN THE HEAL INITIATIVE HAVE EXITED SHELTER WITH NO LONGER TERM HOUSING RESOURCE ATTACHED.

HAVING SAID THAT WE ABSOLUTELY WANT TO KEEP PEOPLE IN BRIDGE SHELTER UNTIL THEY CAN BE PLACED IN THEIR PERMANENT HOME.

AND SO THERE ARE THREE THINGS THAT I WOULD SAY WE REALLY LEARNED OVER THE, THE INITIAL COURSE OF, UH, OF THIS INITIATIVE, WHICH IS A RELATIVELY NEW MODEL IN AUSTIN.

UH, FIRST OF ALL, I THINK THAT WE, WE WANT TO ENGAGE PEOPLE IN THEIR PERMANENT PERMANENT HOUSING PROGRAM QUICKLY SO THAT THEY ARE CONFIDENT THAT IN FACT, THEY ARE MOVING TOWARD A HOME AND THEY'RE NOT GOING TO BE STAYING IN SHELTER INDEFINITELY.

WE SECOND NEED TO ENSURE THAT WE'RE BUILDING COMMUNITY AND RELATIONSHIPS IN THOSE BRIDGE SHELTERS SO THAT PEOPLE ARE COMFORTABLE, UH, AND ARE INVESTED IN STAYING THERE, UH, FOR A LONGER PERIOD OF TIME.

AND THEN FINALLY, WE NEED TO CONTINUE TO LOOK VERY CLOSELY AT THE OPERATIONS OF OUR BRIDGE SHELTERS TO ENSURE THAT THEIR LOW BARRIER, THAT WE ARE WORKING WITH PEOPLE WITH COMPLEX LIVES AND CONDITIONS IN THOSE SHELTERS AND THAT PEOPLE ARE ONLY BEING EXITED EITHER VOLUNTARILY OR WHEN THERE IS AN ISSUE, UH, UH, AN IMMEDIATE ISSUE OF HEALTH OR SAFETY.

SO WE ARE IN ACTIVE CONVERSATIONS, UH, IN THE O THE BRIDGE SHELTER THAT THE CITY ITSELF OPERATES AS WELL AS WITH THE NEW OPERATOR OF THE SOUTH BRIDGE SHELTER.

UH, AND IT WILL BE AN ONGOING, UH, QUALITY IMPROVEMENT PROCESS.

THANK YOU FROM MIKE CANALS AT FOX SEVEN, WHAT IS THE CITY LOOKING TO DO TO CURB FIRES STARTED BY THE HOMELESS? SO AUSTIN FIRE DEPARTMENT OF COURSE, RESPONDS TO ALL FIRE RISKS IN THE COMMUNITY, UH, PARTICULARLY WILD WILDFIRE RISK.

AND THAT INCLUDES, UH, FIRE RISK THAT IS RELATED TO HOMELESS ENCAMPMENTS.

UH, I WILL SAY THAT WITH, UM, THE INCREASED CLEAN LEVEL OF CLEANUP OVER THE LAST, ROUGHLY A YEAR, WE HAVE SEEN THE FIRE LOAD DECREASE IN ENCAMPMENTS AS THE PREVALENCE OF BUILT STRUCTURES, ET CETERA HAS SOMEWHAT DIMINISHED.

HOWEVER, WE DO WORK VERY CLOSELY WITH AFD ON OUTREACH, UM, MAKING SURE THAT WE ARE GETTING INFORMATION OUT TO THE ENCAMPMENTS SO THAT, UM, OCCUPANTS UNDERSTAND WHAT THE RISKS ARE.

UM, YOU KNOW, I THINK ONE OF THE GREATEST RISKS WE'VE SEEN IN THE PAST HAS BEEN THE PRESENCE OF PROPANE TANKS THAT MAY BE USED TO FUEL, UH, COOKING FIRES AND, AND CAN BE COMBUSTIBLE IN VERY, VERY HIGH TEMPERATURES.

WE ACTUALLY HAVE DISTRIBUTED FIRE EXTINGUISHERS AS A PILOT, UH, PROGRAM THIS SUMMER TO HELP SMALL FIRES FROM, UM, UH, GETTING OUT OF CONTROL.

BUT ULTIMATELY WE KNOW THAT THE, THE MOST IMPORTANT WAY FOR US TO REDUCE FIRE RISK IS TO REDUCE UNSHELTERED HOMELESSNESS.

AND THAT WILL BE AN ONGOING EFFORT.

THANK YOU FROM SARAH ASH AT THE STATESMAN, IN TERMS OF THE NEW OPERATOR FOR ARCH, WHY WAS THE PREVIOUS OPERATOR REMOVED SO QUICKLY? WHY WASN'T THERE MORE TIME SPENT SELECTING

[00:20:01]

THE NEW OPERATOR? WHAT INSTRUCTIONS IS THE CITY GIVING TO THE NEW OPERATOR AND WHAT ARE THE CITY'S EXPECTATIONS FOR THE NEW OPERATOR REGARDING HOW THE ARCH SHOULD FUNCTION GOING FORWARD? LET'S QUESTION.

UM, SO THE CITY AND WITH THE CONSULTANTS AT MONTHS, PREVIOUS MONTHS, WORKING WITH THE PREVIOUS VENDOR PERFORMING TYPICAL DECISION, UM, TO TRANSITION TO, UM, IN THE INTEREST OF CONTINUING TO ENSURE THAT SERVICE CRITICAL SERVICES WERE AVAILABLE TO THE COMMUNITY, THE CITY OPTED TO ENTER INTO EMERGENCY AGREEMENTS.

UM, WE ARE IN THE PROCESS IN WORKING WITH THE HOMELESS STRATEGY DIVISION TO DO BROADER COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT, TO IDENTIFY A MORE PERMANENT VENDOR FOR THE ARCH AND ALSO FOR SHELTER OPERATIONS.

UM, SOME OF THE INSTRUCTIONS WILL CONTINUE TO ATE BE AS THEY HAVE BEEN IN TERMS OF MAINTAINING THIS LOW BARRIER SHELTER AND ALSO CONNECTING TO THE BROADER CONTINUING OF CARE SERVICES AND OTHER PARTNERS WITHIN THE COMMUNITY.

SO FOR THE MOST PART, THE SERVICES SHOULD REMAIN THE SAME, UM, WITH THE NEW VENDOR AS ADDITIONAL COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT CONVERSATIONS HAPPEN ABOUT ANY POTENTIAL SHIFTS TO THE ARCH AND THE SERVICES PROVIDED THERE.

COULD YOU DETAIL HOW THE LARGER BLOCKS OF FUNDING APPROVED THIS MONTH FOLLOWING THE A P RFPS ARE EXPECTED TO SUPPORT OR IMPROVE LOCAL SHELTER AND HOUSING SERVICES, UH, AS COMPARED TO WHAT IS CURRENTLY OFFERED.

SO PERHAPS I'LL START, UM, UH, WITH A RESPONSE TO THIS AND LET LDA, UM, FILL IN, UH, WHAT I WILL INEVITABLY LEAVE OUT.

SO WE, UH, SAW COUNCIL APPROVE, UH, SIGNIFICANT, UH, AMOUNTS OF DO OF DOLLARS, EXCUSE ME, BOTH OF GENERAL FUND CONTRACTS, SOME OF WHICH WERE NEW, SOME OF WHICH WERE RENEWAL AND, UH, APA FUNDED OR AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN FUNDED CONTRACTS.

I'M GONNA SPEAK SPECIFICALLY TO THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT FUNDED CONTRACTS, BECAUSE THOSE ARE ALL NEW SERVICES, UM, AND EXPANSION OF SERVICES.

SO, AS I SAID, UM, THE CITY COUNCIL APPROVED ALMOST 19 MILLION OF RAPID REHOUSING FUNDING FOR OUR NONPROFITS TO PUT PEOPLE INTO PERMANENT HOUSING.

THAT AMOUNT IS POTENTIALLY RENEWABLE FOR ANOTHER YEAR.

UM, AND SO WE ARE STILL WORKING ON THE OUTCOMES METRICS OF SOME OF THE ADJUSTED AMOUNTS IN THOSE CONTRACTS, BUT I WOULD VENTURE TO SAY, WE WILL, THO THOSE CONTRACTS HAVE THE CAPACITY TO REHOUSE, PROBABLY A THOUSAND PEOPLE.

UM, ADDITIONALLY, JUST AS AN EXAMPLE OF SOME OF THE CONTRACTS THAT HAVE GONE, UH, THROUGH, THROUGH TO COUNCIL AROUND CRISIS SERVICES AROUND SHELTER, THE CITY WILL BE SUPPORTING THE EXPANDED OPERATIONS AT ESPERANZA COMMUNITY, WHICH IS, UM, THE SPACE OPERATED BY THE OTHER ONES FOUNDATION, UH, WHICH WAS PREVIOUSLY A STATE OWNED, SANCTIONED ENCAMPMENT, BUT WITH VERY LITTLE IN THE WAY OF INFRASTRUCTURE, UM, AND, UM, AND REALLY TENSE, ET CETERA, THAT HAD BEEN BROUGHT BY THE OCCUPANTS.

THEY ARE DOING A MAJOR IMPROVEMENT OUT THERE USING, UH, SMALL, UH, UH, BRICKS AND STICKS, UH, SORT OF INDIVIDUAL SHELTERS, UH, FOR BETTER LIVING CONDITIONS FOR PEOPLE ADDING, UH, COMMUNAL BATHROOMS, UH, AND COMMUNITY SPACE.

SO WHILE THEY ARE, UM, USING OTHER SOURCES FOR THE CREATION OF THE ENHANCED CAPITAL PLANT THERE, THE CITY IS HELPING SUPPORT THE OPERATING NEED AND SERVICES NEED TO RUN THE SITE ONCE IT'S UP AND RUN YOU DIANA.

AND I WOULD ADD, THIS WAS A TIME FOR, UM, THE CITY TO RECOMPETE ITS HOMELESS SERVICES.

THERE WERE SLIGHT SHIFTS AND THE WAY THE FUNDING WAS, UM, THE GENERAL FUND KIND OF WAS, UM, ALLOCATED.

UM, SO I WOULD HIGHLIGHT THAT THE, SOME OF THE CHANGES AND IMPROVEMENTS REALLY WILL BE DUE TO THE APA FUNDING THAT IS HELPING INCREASE CAPACITY, BUT I WOULD ALSO HIGHLIGHT THAT THIS WILL ALSO BE THE FIRST YEAR THAT WE ARE PILOTING KIND OF A, MORE OF A PAY FOR PERFORMANCE MODEL WITH OUR RAPID REHOUSING.

SO I THINK THAT WILL BE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR US TO, TO REALLY SEE KIND OF SOME IMPROVEMENTS WITHIN THE REPORTING AND PERFORMANCE OF SOME OF OUR PROVIDERS.

SO I THINK THAT WILL BE AN OPPORTUNITY TO HIGHLIGHT SOME OF THAT WORK FROM JESSICA AT CBS, AUSTIN, UH, EXISTING SHELTERS AND BEDS ARE NEAR CAPACITY WHAT'S AVAILABLE RIGHT NOW FOR PEOPLE CURRENTLY LIVING IN CAMPS.

SO YOU'RE CORRECT THAT WE, OUR SHELTER SYSTEM, WHICH, UH, AS OF LAST COUNT, UH, SHELTERED ABOUT A LITTLE OVER 900 PEOPLE IN OUR

[00:25:01]

COMMUNITY HAS BEEN AT OR NEAR KIND.

WE HAVE SEEN SOME MODEST INCREASING CAPACITY OVER THE LAST SEVERAL MONTHS AS, UH, THE SEVERITY OF COVID IN OUR COMMUNITY HAS DECREASED SOMEWHAT.

AND OUR PROVIDERS HAVE BEEN ABLE, UH, TO ADD SOME ADDITIONAL DENSITY, UH, THAT THEY HAD PREVIOUSLY HAD TO DECREASE.

UH, WHAT WE SEE IS THAT, UM, THE ARCH HISTORICALLY HAS HAD A WAITING LIST, UH, AND THAT WITH THE BRIDGE SHELTERS, UH, THEY WERE FOR EXAMPLE, AT FULL CAPACITY IN AUGUST, UH, WE DO HAVE PEOPLE MOVE OUT INTO HOUSING, UM, REGULARLY.

AND SO WHAT WE'RE LOOKING FOR THERE IS THE CAPACITY TO RELOCATE ENTIRE ENCAMPMENTS.

SO OVER TIME, USUALLY WHAT WE'D LIKE TO SEE IS ABOUT EVERY MONTH, UH, WE ARE ABLE TO CREATE ENOUGH SPACE TO MOVE ANOTHER ENCAMPMENT, UM, OFFER RELOCATION TO SHELTER, TO EVERYONE IN THE SINGLE ENCAMPMENT.

I WILL ALSO SAY THAT WITH, UM, URBAN ALCHEMY TAKING OVER THE OPERATION OF THE ARCH, WE MAY HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO REVISIT, UM, SOME OF THE REFERRAL PATHWAYS, ET CETERA.

UM, AND, AND TAKE A LOOK AT THAT CAPACITY FROM KELSEY AT K X, A N IN EARLY 2021, THE SUMMIT TO ADDRESS UNSHELTERED HOMELESSNESS IN AUSTIN, SET A GOAL OF HOUSING AROUND 3000 PEOPLE OVER THE NEXT THREE YEARS AT THIS POINT OF THAT BENCHMARK IS THE CITY ON TRACK WITH THAT GOAL ALONG WITH RELATED AFFORDABLE HOUSING INITIATIVES.

SO, SO THE, THE 3000 PERSON GOAL IS, UH, TARGETED FOR THE END OF OF CALENDAR YEAR 2024.

SO WE HAD A RAMP UP PERIOD IN 2021.

AND AS I MENTIONED, UH, WE ARE JUST NOW GETTING SOME OF THESE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT FUNDED CONTRACTS TO OUR NONPROFITS.

SO TO DATE, OUR REHOUSING RATE HAS BEEN SIMILAR TO WHAT IT HAD BEEN PREVIOUSLY, BUT AS I SAID, WE'VE JUST MARKEDLY INCREASED THE CAPACITY IN THE COMMUNITY TO REHOUSE PEOPLE.

AND, UH, WE ARE ON TRACK TO CREATE THE NUMBER OF UNITS, BUT THOSE WILL BE COMING ONLINE GRADUALLY.

SO WE BELIEVE THAT REALLY STARTING IN CALENDAR YEAR 23 IS WHEN WE'RE GOING TO SEE A DRAMATIC INCREASE IN OUR PROGRAM CAPACITY.

UM, HAVING SAID THAT IT WILL BE CRITICAL THAT WE WORK WITH THE COMMUNITY AND PROVIDERS TO ENSURE THAT WE CAN GAIN ACCESS TO APARTMENT UNITS FOR PEOPLE TO MOVE INTO, UH, WHETHER THOSE ARE UNITS THAT ARE CONSTRUCTED, UM, FOR THAT PURPOSE.

BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, UNITS THAT EXIST IN THE PRIVATE MARKET, UH, FINDING OWNERS AND PROPERTY MANAGERS THAT WILL WORK WITH US.

UH, WE DO HAVE SOME RISK MITIGATION FUNDS AND OTHER INCENTIVES FOR PROPERTY OWNERS TO, UM, ENSURE THAT THEY'RE COMFORTABLE, THAT THEY FEEL COMFORTABLE, THAT THE, UM, RENTS WILL BE PAID, THAT THE SECURITY DEPOSITS ARE ADEQUATE.

THAT WILL BE CRITICAL TO US MAKING THOSE GOALS AS WELL.

THANK YOU.

WE WILL.

NOW, DID WE LOSE CARLA, DIANA, WOULD YOU LIKE TO BEGIN YOUR CLOSING REMARKS? SURE.

I WILL BE BRIEF.

UM, YOU KNOW, FIRST OF ALL, I, AGAIN, I WANNA THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

THERE HAS BEEN SO MUCH HAPPENING IN THIS SPACE OVER THE PAST SEVERAL MONTHS.

AND SO, UH, YOU KNOW, WE KNOW THAT BOTH FOR THE MEDIA AND FOR THE PUBLIC, UH, IT IS A LOT TO DIGEST AND THERE ARE MANY, MANY QUESTIONS.

UH, WE REMAIN AVAILABLE TO YOU TO ANSWER THOSE QUESTIONS.

UH, I, IN PARTNERSHIP WITH OUR OTHER CITY DEPARTMENTS AND COMMUNITY, UH, NONPROFITS AND, AND ADVOCATES, UH, WE LOOK FORWARD TO FURTHER, UH, ABOUT OUR PROGRESS MOVING FORWARD.

AND I, I DO WANNA CERTAINLY THANK LIEUTENANT DAVIS AND LADER LEFT.

WE FOR JOINING US TODAY WITH THAT, I WILL PASS IT TO LIEUTENANT DAVIS TO SEE IF HE HAS ANY CLOSING REMARKS AS WELL AS LAVA.

NO, I THINK YOU SUMMED IT UP QUITE

[00:30:01]

WELL AT THIS THINK THAT, YOU KNOW, UM, WHEN I WAS MENTIONING EARLIER, YOU KNOW, WE'RE JUST, UM, WE'RE CONSTANTLY LOOKING AT WHAT WORKS, WHAT DOESN'T WORK AND WHAT'S PROMISING.

AND THE THINGS THAT WE'VE LEARNED THAT WORK ARE, YOU KNOW, COLLABORATION AND, UM, YOU KNOW, COMING TOGETHER WITH A, WITH A PLAN.

AND SO THINGS ARE HA HAVE MARKEDLY GONE MUCH SMOOTHER THAN THEY BEGAN.

AND I ANTICIPATE THAT THE, THE FOLKS WILL SEE MUCH MORE PROGRESS AS WE MOVE TOWARD, UM, UH, BEING INTENTIONAL ABOUT, UM, HAVING A, A PROBLEM SOLVING MENTALITY.

YOU KNOW, AUSTIN POLICE DEPARTMENT SAYS WE'RE ARE INVOLVED IN COMMUNITY TO POLICING AND SOME FOLKS SAY, WELL, UM, UM, WHAT DOES THAT LOOK LIKE? WELL, THE BEST WAY I CAN DESCRIBE IT IS PROBLEM SOLVING RATHER THAN, YOU KNOW, LOOKING FOR THE, THE TOOL ON YOUR BELT.

THAT'LL FIX SOME THINGS, YOU KNOW, SOMETIMES IT MAY NOT TAKE THE HANDCUFFS.

IT MAY TAKE THE, UH, UM, YOU KNOW, SOME PARTS OF THE HEART TO GET THINGS MOVING ALONG.

SO WE'RE GRATEFUL FOR YOUR PARTNERSHIPS, DIANA AND WE'RE, UM, WE'RE OPEN.

I I'LL LEAVE MY INFORMATION IF THERE IS ANY OTHER QUESTIONS THAT MAY HAVE BEEN MISSED OR, YOU KNOW, CERTAINLY FOLKS CAN CERTAINLY CONTACT US, GO, THANK YOU.

AND I JUST WANNA ECHO KIND OF A LOT OF THE COMMENTS FROM DIANA, WE ARE HERE TO, TO SERVE AND DEFINITELY TO ENSURE THAT WE ARE WORKING COLLABORATIVELY AS WE, YOU KNOW, TRY TO WORK TO HOUSE, KIND OF THOSE WHO ARE UNHOUSED AND ALSO WORK WITH OUR COMMUNITY PARTNERS.

SO DEFINITELY OPEN TO CONTINUED CONVERSATIONS AND HOW WE CAN, UH, CONTINUE TO WORK TOGETHER.

THANK YOU.

THANKS.

ALL.