Is Austin’s Democrat-run city hall addicted to expensive, provenly failed government projects?
On Wednesday, the Austin City Council will consider Item 31: purchasing two properties in northwest Austin, at the cost of more than $16 million, to use as homeless shelters.
City officials first announced the idea last fall, but now they may actually pull the trigger on spending the exorbitant pile of taxpayer money.
The hotel proposal mirrors a policy by New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio, which begat national derision, as well as similar failed projects in Los Angeles and San Francisco. It’s unclear why Austin’s Democrat city officials expect different results in Texas’ capital.
The city council has already used hotels as homeless shelters in recent months, spending exorbitant amounts of citizens’ cash to house only a handful of the homeless population in low-barrier and high-risk places (in 2019, the city council spent $8 million to buy a run-down hotel for 81 homeless individuals).
Additionally, the council enflamed the entire local homelessness issue last year, when it allowed homeless individuals to camp in nearly every public space across the city—a decision that sparked a wildfire of public backlash, safety risk, and an increase in violent crime.
However, newly elected Councilmember Mackenzie Kelly, a conservative who won last year primarily over the vagrancy issue, has requested a one-week delay to collect public input. One of the relevant properties is in Kelly’s district.
Typically, when this sort of project is located in a council member’s district, requests like Kelly’s are considered a professional courtesy. However, given that Kelly is the lone conservative on a dais otherwise under socialist domination, her case is hardly typical. Whether or not Kelly is granted this courtesy will be a tea leaf for her time on the otherwise all-Democrat council.
At a minimum, the public has until Wednesday to make its voice heard.
Austinites concerned about this issue can contact their city council member.