City of AustinFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Homeless Strategy Division
The City of Austin and partners helped 20 individuals move from an encampment near Gillis Neighborhood Park to temporary bridge shelter.
The City of Austin and partners helped 20 individuals move from an encampment near Gillis Neighborhood Park in south Austin to temporary bridge shelters, as part of the Housing-Focused Encampment Assistance Link (HEAL) initiative.
HEAL carries out closures of homeless encampments that pose the highest public health and safety risks. Occupants are offered transfer to shelter, and connection to concrete housing resources.
“The HEAL Initiative continues to move people from the City’s most unsafe encampments into shelter, with a clear path to housing. Along with the expansion of other community housing efforts, HEAL helps move the needle on homelessness in our community.” said City of Austin Homeless Strategy Officer Dianna Grey.
The 20 individuals moved to the City-owned Northbridge and Southbridge shelters today. In the first phase of HEAL, which took place from June to August of 2021, approximately 150 people were moved from high-risk encampments to the Southbridge and Northbridge shelters. So far in the second phase of HEAL, 120 people have been moved into temporary bridge shelters, for a total of 270 served since the program was launched. The Homeless Strategy Division aims to shelter and house at least 200 people through HEAL this fiscal year.
This was a coordinated effort. The Homeless Strategy Division works closely with the Homeless Outreach Street Team (HOST), Downtown Austin Community Court, Integral Care, Front Steps, and community partners.
Austin City Council approved the HEAL initiative in February 2021. The Homeless Strategy Division has developed a mobile encampment assessment tool that measures over 40 factors to prioritize encampments for HEAL intervention.
Last June, Austin City Council voted to dedicate $106.7 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds toward addressing homelessness, of which at least $6 million will be used for the HEAL Initiative. Travis County Commissioners Court voted in September to allocate $110 million in ARPA funds to build housing units for people experiencing homelessness in the Austin area. The City is also expanding capacity for crisis services, case management, behavioral health, and rehousing programs.