The City of Austin and partners helped 28 individuals move from West Bouldin Creek area to temporary bridge shelter.
The City of Austin and partners helped 28 individuals move from West Bouldin Creek area to temporary bridge shelter, as part of the second phase 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 28 individuals moved to the City-owned Northbridge and Southbridge shelters this week. 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, 63 people have been moved into temporary bridge shelters. The Homeless Strategy Division aims to shelter and house at least 200 people through HEAL this fiscal year.
“This initiative allows us to work with community partners, offering resources to help find more people permanent housing,” said City of Austin Homeless Strategy Officer Dianna Grey. “While there is still more work to be done, we are dedicated to making a difference in for the thousands of people living unhoused in our community.”
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.
Coordinated by the Homeless Strategy Division, HEAL involves multiple City of Austin entities and community partners, including the Homeless Outreach Street Team (HOST), Austin Resource Recovery, Watershed Protection, Parks and Recreation, Austin Fire Department, Austin Police Department, Downtown Austin Community Court, EMS Austin Travis County, Integral Care and Family Eldercare.
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, serving a minimum of 200 additional people. 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.