City of AustinFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Austin Public Health Department
Today, the Austin City Council approved a 12-month lease agreement for the former Salvation Army Downtown Shelter.
Today, the Austin City Council approved a 12-month lease agreement for the former Salvation Army Downtown Shelter, as well as a contract with Urban Alchemy to operate the recently-shuttered site with capacity to serve 150 people nightly. Urban Alchemy is a California-based non-profit organization that operates shelters across the country, including the City’s Austin Resource Center for the Homeless or ARCH, which is adjacent to the property to be leased.
On February 17, 2023, The Salvation Army announced the closure of their downtown shelter effective March 15, 2023. The City worked with the nonprofit organization to keep the doors open until April 15th to allow time for clients to be relocated. Currently, there are no suitable City owned properties in the downtown area allowing for the continuation of services that the Salvation Army provides. The 1-year lease agreement starts July 1, 2023 and would avoid major disruptions in service to the downtown population. Funding for the lease will utilize American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding that has been allocated to Austin Public Health Department for homelessness services.
“Homelessness continues to be a challenge, rooted in the lack of available housing. Yet, we know we can do something about it,” said Interim City of Austin Manager Jesus Garza. “Keeping the doors open and ensuring resources are accessible at the Salvation Army’s former site is another step towards our commitment to creating a safer and healthier environment for all of our community members.”
In addition to the lease agreement, other efforts are underway to increase emergency shelter capacity in the City of Austin. An additional 130 shelter beds are being created by converting rooms from single to double occupancy at the City’s Northbridge and Southbridge shelters. This adjustment is part of an effort to provide expanded emergency shelter capacity in tandem with the community’s ongoing efforts to provide permanent housing for an additional 3,000 Austinites by the end of 2024.
Later this summer, Council will consider providing up to 300 more beds by establishing a temporary emergency shelter facility at the City-owned Marshalling Yard, located on Airport Commerce Drive near the intersection of U.S. 183 and TX 71.
The City is also working to increase capacity in permanent supportive housing. Since January 2021, permanent supportive housing capacity has increased by about 500 clients, and another 1,000 units for people exiting homelessness are in the development pipeline.
To learn more about homelessness in Austin, visit www.austintexas.gov/homelessness