As Austin City Hall continues exacerbating a homeless disaster in the city, one of their proposed $6.5 million homeless shelters is receiving last-minute pushback from local Williamson County:
The Commissioners Court unanimously voted to authorize Judge Gravell to send a letter to the City of Austin asking them to delay for 180 days the lease, contracting for or purchase of any property in WilCo for the temporary or permanent housing of homeless individuals.
— Williamson County (@wilcogov) February 2, 2021
The move from the nominally Republican county comes as Democrat-run Austin City Council was likely to approve the facility at this week’s meeting. The purchase was scheduled for a vote last week, but it was delayed a week to allow for community input.
Originally proposed last fall, 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.
Indeed, the Austin City Council has already used hotels as homeless shelters in recent months, spending exorbitant amounts of citizens’ cash to house only a handful of homeless 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).
The council also began enflaming the vagrancy issue almost two years ago when they 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.
The degree to which Williamson County has formal jurisdiction is unclear; nevertheless, these requests are usually considered a professional courtesy in government.
Austinites concerned about this facility can contact their city council member.