Thursday, April 29, 2021

Día de los Niños Event Brings Community Together with Kid-Friendly Giveaways


Día de los Niños Drive-Thru Event Brings Community Together 
with Kid-Friendly Giveaways and More

On Friday, April 30 from 5 to 7 p.m., community members are invited to attend a Día de los Niños event at Mendez Middle School, at 5106 Village Square Drive.

A popular annual celebration in Mexico of children and their wellbeing, the gathering is a drive-thru get-together, with some walk-up stations, and includes games, kid-friendly giveaways, safety and education tools, and more!
 
The Día celebration also promotes literacy, culture and language. To help commemorate this, the Austin Public Library Book Mobile will be on-site distributing books.
 
Other highlights include free car and booster seats along with safety demonstrations by Austin-Travis County EMS and an Austin Fire Department fire truck for the kids to experience. AISD will offer Pre-K registration for the upcoming school year. And resources for child welfare will be available.
 
The event is open to the public and is in partnership with Councilwoman Vanessa Fuentes and AISD District 2 Trustee Ofelia Maldonado Zapata as well as AISD, Austin Fire Department, Austin Parks & Recreation, Austin Police Department, Austin Public Health, Austin Public Library, First Church and Mission Capital.

Who: Councilwoman Vanessa Fuentes, AISD District 2 Trustee Ofelia Maldonado Zapata 

What: Drive-thru event celebrating the children of Austin
 
When: Friday, April 30, 5–7 p.m.
 
Where: Mendez Middle School – 5106 Village Square Drive, Austin, TX 78744 (District 2)
 

Parque Zaragoza’s 90th Anniversary Year-Long Celebration


Parque Zaragoza's 90th Anniversary Year-Long Celebration

Amigos de Parque Zaragoza and Austin City Council District 3 will be celebrating the 90th Anniversary of Parque Zaragoza with a year-long celebration beginning May 5, 2021 and running through May 5, 2022. The celebration will kick-off with a wreath laying ceremony at Parque Zaragoza on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 to commemorate the victory of the Mexican Army and General Ignacio Zaragoza at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
 
Additional events to be facilitated throughout the year (as COVID restrictions permit):
  • Launch of monthly park cleanups—Beginning June 2021
  • Park design and visioning sessions—July 2021
  • Music festival or music series—Fall 2021
  • Bus trip to Goliad (formally Bahia del Espiritu Santo) birthplace of Zaragoza—March 2022
  • Submit application for National Historic Designation for Parque Zaragoza
"The theme for this year's celebration will be Defending Democracy which reflects the efforts of the Mexican troops during the Battle of Puebla. This theme is also important today; reminding us that we all have a role to play in ensuring democracy and freedom for generations to come." said Raul Alvarez Chair of Amigos de Parque Zaragoza.
 
"Parque Zaragoza is a cornerstone in the neighboring community." said Council Member Renteria. "We are all looking forward to celebrating the history and culture surrounding this award-winning park."  
 
The wreath laying ceremony will be socially distanced outdoor event with masks required except for when officials are speaking.
 
For more information or to live-stream the upcoming events, visit  the Amigos de Parque Zaragoza Facebook Page or email Raul Alvarez at ralvarez@canatx.org.
                                                                                                   

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

City Seeks Community Feedback on Austin Police Department Use of Force Policies


  City Seeks Community Feedback on Austin Police Department Use of Force Policies
Office of Police Oversight hosts community conversations on Austin Police Department use of force policies

The Office of Police Oversight (OPO) has developed a survey and will host a series of events to collect feedback from the community on recommendations to update Austin Police Department (APD) policies related to the use of force.  

The virtual community meetings are taking place in April and May: Reimagining Our Community Safety Policies Sessions 

To RSVP for any of the following events, click here. 

  • April 28 

  • May 12  

  • May 19  

  • May 26  

All meetings will begin at 6 p.m. The survey is available on the City's SpeakUp Austin feedback portal in English and Spanish until May 31, 2021. More information about the survey and the virtual community listening sessions is available in the How to Get Involved in Police Oversight section of the OPO website.  

In January 2021, OPO published a report outlining the results of its review of APD policies, research of use of force best practices around the nation, and a series of APD policy change recommendations. OPO's analysis of APD policies revealed that there are many areas to improve safety for both Austin police officers and community members. 

OPO is now requesting community input on the proposed recommendations to improve those areas. 

"The survey and community meetings are an opportunity to include the voices of those most frequently and directly impacted by police policies and practices in this process," said Farah Muscadin, Director of the Office of Police Oversight." We want to hear their experiences and ideas as we work with APD to revise policies so they reflect our collective values and needs."  

OPO's report and feedback gathering are part of a City Council and City Manager directed process to review, research, and recommend Use of Force policy changes to be incorporated into a rewrite of APD General Orders. The rewrite will cover additional policy areas including: search and seizure, body-worn cameras, dash cameras, mental health response, discipline, bias, language, and courtesy.  

After all the feedback is submitted, OPO will create a report and submit it to the City Manager, City Council, and the Austin Police Department. 

Spanish and American Sign Language interpretation services will be available at the events. Additional interpretation services and accommodations may be available upon request. To request these services, please email opo.outreach@austintexas.gov

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About the Office of Police Oversight  

The mission of the Office of Police Oversight (OPO) is to provide impartial oversight of the Austin Police Department's conduct, practices, and policies to enhance accountability, inform the public to increase transparency, and create sustainable partnerships throughout the community. Learn more at atxpoliceoversight.org.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Winter Storm Review Task Force to Take Public Comment on April 29




 

Winter Storm Review Task Force to Take Public Comment on April 29 

Effort Aimed at Preparing Austin for Future Disasters 

Austin, Texas – Following the severe weather events of Winter Storm Uri that impacted residents in February 2021, the City of Austin has established a Winter Storm Review Task Force to identify strategies for building a more resilient, better-prepared city and community response for future disasters. 

The Task Force will hold open public listening sessions during which individuals and organizational representatives can share information, experiences, and recommendations related to the winter storm and resulting crises. The Task Force's role will be to create a structured public space for these comments and to summarize these into a final report for the Austin City Council. 

The Task Force is seeking public comment at a virtual meeting on April 29, 2021 at 6:00pm. The focus of the meeting will be impacted residents and businesses within District 6 and District 8, however any member of the public is allowed to provide comment. Details of additional meetings focusing on other Council districts will be shared soon. 

To speak remotely at the April 29, 2021 Winter Storm Review Task Force Meeting, members of the public must:  

  • Call or email the board liaison at (512) 974-6339 or Patricia.Bourenane@austintexas.gov no later than noon, April 28, 2021. The following information is required:  

  • Speaker name  

  • Item number(s) they wish to speak on 

  • Whether they are for/against/neutral 

  • Email address and telephone number (must be the same number that will be used to call into the meeting) 

  • If interpretation for any languages are need other than Spanish 

  • Once a request to speak has been made to the board liaison, the information to call on the day of the scheduled meeting will be provided either by email or phone call. 

  • Speakers must call in at least 15 minutes prior to meeting start time in order to speak, late callers will not be accepted and will not be able to speak. 

  • Speakers will be placed in a queue until their time to speak.  

  • Handouts or other information may be emailed to Patricia.Bourenane@austintexas.gov by noon the day before the scheduled meeting. This information will be provided to Board and Commission members in advance of the meeting. 

The meeting is scheduled to be broadcast live on ATXN here: http://www.austintexas.gov/page/watch-atxn-live

The meeting agenda can be viewed here: http://www.austintexas.gov/edims/document.cfm?id=358811 


Saturday, April 24, 2021

Council Member Alter, Austin Council Demand State Release Federal Money and Fund Public Schools


Council Member Alter, Austin Council Demand State Release Federal Money and Fund Public Schools

Council Member Alison Alter authored a unanimously-approved resolution requesting that the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Legislature, and Governor Greg Abbott release currently withheld federal funding intended for public schools and provide the expected amount of state funding to local school districts. 
 
"Our public schools are key to the future of our state and our nation, and our kids deserve better from state leaders," said Council Member Alison Alter, who is also a co-founder of Just Fund It TX, a local advocacy group fighting to improve funding for Texas public schools. "So long as state leaders withhold billions of dollars from our children, both our kids and our economy will suffer."
 
Texas is one of only two states that has not given dedicated federal stimulus funding to its schools. To date, three rounds of federal funding totaling over $19 billion have been allocated for Texas K-12 schools. During the first round, state leaders released only $1.3 billion in federal money to Texas schools, but subsequently withheld an equivalent amount of state money, effectively supplanting expected state funds and leaving public school districts with no supplemental assistance. 
 
"Governor Abbott is playing politics with our children, our teachers and our schools," said Laura Yeager, co-founder and director of Just Fund It TX. "More than 60 percent of Texas students are considered economically disadvantaged and have great needs which have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is urgent that the remaining $17.9 billion in federal funding be sent to school districts immediately."
 
The Austin Independent School District stands to receive approximately $240 million in federal funding if the money is released and the Central Texas region would anticipate over a half a billion dollars. Local school districts have indicated the federal funds will be used for after-school programs; mental health support for students and staff; learning loss and support for students; school nurses; technology; and improved safety and ventilation at schools. 
 
"These funds are an essential part of our community's recovery," said Lynn Boswell, Austin Independent School District Trustee. "Districts know what our needs are, and we know how to use these funds well. But we can't do that until we know these funds are coming to our districts as Congress intended."

Council Member Alison Alter added, "The Covid relief for schools comes from the same acts that delivered help to local businesses and their employees through the Paycheck Protection Plan, provided direct payments to individuals, increased unemployment benefits, and funded local government gaps. We are more than a year into the pandemic and our public schools in Texas have seen virtually no relief. Our state government needs to change that."
 
Local advocacy organizations Raise Your Hand Texas and Just Fund It TX are asking Texans to contact state officials using an online toolkit to demand they release federal funding for public schools. 

You can read the full council resolution at https://www.austintexas.gov/edims/document.cfm?id=358018.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Homeless Outreach Street Team (HOST) Continue Helping Those Experiencing Homelessness

  

Homeless Outreach Street Team (HOST) Continues Helping Those Experiencing Homelessness


According to a recent needs assessment shared with the Austin City Council, the Homeless Outreach Street Team (HOST), which is dedicated to providing proactive outreach and frontline assistance to people experiencing homelessness, served 913 individuals in 2020.  HOST modified program approaches to incorporate safety precautions for individuals served and staff to ensure that these critical, in-person services could continue despite the challenges presented by the pandemic. 

HOST is a collaborative among the Austin Police Department, Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services, Integral Care (IC) and the Downtown Austin Community Court (DACC), who together address a wide range of needs for individuals experiencing homelessness. Individuals receive assistance for immediate or chronic medical issues, accessing medication needs and connecting to mental health and other clinical services. 

Additionally, each member of HOST builds relationships with members of the homeless community, which helps build trust in engaging in services and enables compassionate de-escalation of situations when needed.  These efforts aim to meet the needs of individuals served before issues escalate that could result in emergency medical care, psychiatric hospitalization, or arrest.

In 2020 alone, HOST had 2,854 instances of providing services such as conducting Coordinated Assessments, providing linkages to health and social services, meeting basic needs, and providing assistance with transportation.  Additionally, HOST services in 2020 resulted in 294 diversions from public safety response systems including hospital emergency rooms, psychiatric hospitals, and jail.  Since HOST launched in October 2016, the program has had 11,027 instances of providing services in the community and has helped facilitate 470 diversions from emergency rooms, 156 diversions from psychiatric hospital admissions and 187 diversions from jail. 

The financial and other tangible benefits of this effort are significant for the community and the individuals served by HOST.  The average cost of a hospital or psychiatric ER visit is around $1,400.  Incarceration has financial implications for the public and the individuals engaged in the criminal justice system, and can impact future employment and housing opportunities.  By intervening early, HOST can divert individuals away from costly emergency services such as hospitals and jail, and instead work towards longer term solutions with a goal of ultimately ending their experience with homelessness.

DACC Intensive Case Managers provide ongoing support after initial engagement to help connect individuals to housing and assist with many of their needs, such as obtaining identification documents, signing up for medical benefits, and accessing Social Security Disability Insurance and Social Security Income benefits. A multitude of IC programs provide ongoing mental health services for individuals engaged, and HOST members also help connect homeless individuals to housing through the available programs in Austin's homelessness services continuum.

"As City and community efforts continue to end homelessness in our community, HOST and DACC staff remain dedicated to serving our neighbors experiencing homelessness with compassion and respect, while connecting individuals to person-centered services that meet their needs," said Peter Valdez, Director of DACC.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Hawaiian Airlines lands in the Lone Star State


Hawaiian Airlines lands in the Lone Star State

Apr 22, 2021 04:38 pm
AUSTIN, Texas – Hawaiian Airlines and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) today celebrated the inauguration of the twice-weekly nonstop service between AUS and Honolulu's Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL). Hawaii's hometown carrier introduced its in-house music and dance group, The Hawaiian Airlines Serenaders, to the "Live Music Capital of the World" as it welcomed guests aboard its first flight to Hawaii.
 
"We're thrilled to be the first carrier to provide nonstop flights between Central Texas and Hawaii," said Peter Ingram, president and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines, who celebrated the inaugural departure alongside representatives from AUS, the City of Austin, Visit Austin and the Austin Chamber of Commerce. "Both destinations are known for their incredible food, music and arts scene and we couldn't be more excited to connect these two amazing cities with our convenient, award-winning service."

Flight HA81 departs Austin on Thursday and Sunday at 10:10 a.m. with a 1:30 p.m. scheduled arrival in Honolulu, allowing guests to check in to their accommodations and begin exploring O'ahu or connect to any of Hawaiian's four Neighbor Island destinations. The flight from Honolulu to Austin, HA82, departs on Wednesday and Saturday at 10 a.m. and arrives at 10:10 p.m.

"We are excited to celebrate the first-ever Pacific route from AUS," said Gina Fiandaca, Assistant City Manager over the SD23 Mobility Outcome. "Both leisure and business travelers alike will benefit from this new opportunity to travel to Hawaii with convenience and ease. This is an exciting goal to meet in our Strategic Direction 2023 work to provide Austinites with more options to get to where they want to go, when they want to get there."

Hawaiian will increase AUS-HNL service to three weekly flights from May 28 through Aug. 13 to meet summer travel demand.

"Hawaiian Airlines' arrival in Austin signals strong confidence in the Austin market as we continue to recover from the financial impacts of the pandemic," said Jacqueline Yaft, Chief Executive Officer for AUS. "This is a great milestone for both our airport and our greater Austin community."

In recognition of the inaugural service coinciding with Earth Day, Hawaiian encouraged guests heading to Hawaii to travel pono – responsibly – by gifting them a reusable utensil kit, part of the airline's new eco-minded collection of products that launched this week.

Guests onboard Hawaiian's Austin-Honolulu flights will enjoy the airline's signature Mea Ho'okipa (I am host) service - the gold standard in domestic leisure travel featuring an authentic Hawaii experience. Hawaiian proudly offers complimentary meals in all cabins and has partnered with Hawaii's top chefs to offer an island-inspired dining experience for guests traveling in its First Class cabin. Guests will feel relaxed in the roominess and superior comfort of its 278-seat Airbus A330 aircraft, which feature 18 First Class lie-flat leather seats arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration tailored for couples, families and honeymooners, as well as business travelers. Hawaiian's A330s are also equipped with 68 of its popular Extra Comfort premium economy seats providing more legroom and enhanced amenities, in addition to 192 Main Cabin seats.

Hawaiian, the nation's most punctual airline for 17 straight years, has simplified the experience for guests to meet the state of Hawai'i's pre-travel testing requirements and be exempt from quarantine upon arrival through partnerships with Worksite Labs, which offers drive-thru COVID-19 testing at the AUS airport, and CareNow Urgent Care, which administers rapid testing at 15 locations in the Greater Austin area. More information on these partners can be found at HawaiianAirlines.com/Covid-Test-Options/Austin.

Guests who obtain a negative test within 72 hours from departure will receive a pre-clear wristband during boarding that allows them to bypass airport screening in Hawai'i.
 
For information on additional nonstop routes from AUS, visit the AUS website.

MEDIA: For media assets of the gate celebration, plane's departure and water canon salute, click here for photos and click here for b-roll. 

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About Austin-Bergstrom International Airport
Owned and operated by the City of Austin, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is an economic engine in Central Texas, supplying over 74,000 direct and indirect jobs in the Central Texas region. Its reflection of local food, music, art, and customer service has earned Austin-Bergstrom recognition—including Runner-Up for Best U.S. Airport in Fodor's 2019 Travel Awards.

About Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaiian® has led all U.S. carriers in on-time performance for each of the past 17 years (2004-2020) as reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Consumer surveys by Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure and TripAdvisor have placed Hawaiian among the top of all domestic airlines serving Hawai'i.
 
Now in its 92nd year of continuous service, Hawaiian is Hawai'i's biggest and longest-serving airline. Hawaiian offers nonstop flights within the islands, between Hawai'i and more U.S. gateway cities (16) than any other airline, as well as service connecting the islands with Japan and South Korea. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hawaiian has temporarily suspended service in Australia, New Zealand, American Samoa and Tahiti.

The airline is committed to the health and safety of its guests and employees and has reinforced enhanced cleaning procedures across its business. While the experience may be a little different, the authentic Hawaiian hospitality remains unchanged. Additional details on how Hawaiian is keeping guests and employees safe can be found at HawaiianAirlines.com/KeepingYouSafe.




Council Member Alter, Other Austin Council Members Oppose Permitless Carry Legislation; Call for Action on Gun Violence




Council Member Alter, Other City Council Members Oppose Permitless Carry Legislation;  Call for Immediate Action on Gun Violence

This week our community and District 10 was shaken by another tragic, senseless act of gun violence that took the lives of Amanda Broderick, Alyssa Broderick, and Willie Simmons III. In direct response to the daily scourge of gun violence, today, the Austin City Council approved a resolution authored by Council Member Alison Alter calling for state and federal authorities to take all actions necessary to immediately address gun violence and directing the City Manager to accelerate local efforts to combat gun violence. The resolution was co-sponsored by Mayor Steve Adler, Council Member Gregorio Casar, Council Member Paige Ellis, Council Member Ann Kitchen, Council Member Leslie Pool and Council Member Kathie Tovo.
 
"Common sense gun violence prevention is both possible and necessary; we all know that prayers are not enough," said Council Member Alison Alter, the resolution's author. "Gun violence is a public health crisis and we need our state and federal leaders to treat it as such. This resolution implores the Texas Legislature to advance proposals included in Governor Abbott's own 2018 School and Firearm Safety Action Plan, to pass common sense legislation such as requiring a background check on every gun sale, and to protect and preserve our existing statewide training and licensing requirements to carry a handgun."
 
"We applaud the Austin City Council for passing a resolution that calls on our state and federal lawmakers to take action in response to alarming rates of gun violence in Austin and other cities across our state," said Nicole Golden, a volunteer leader with the Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action. "Texans of all stripes, including gun owners, want common-sense measures and policies that will end gun violence, and we're proud to stand with our City Council members in demanding more than thoughts and prayers."
 
"Gun violence is preventable," said Austin City Council Member Greg Casar. "Although Austin is one of the safest cities in the country, in some neighborhoods in District 4, we deal with higher levels of gun violence. So many of these shootings are preventable, if we focus on stopping gun violence before it starts at all levels of government." 
 
"Today, we keep the victims and survivors in our hearts as we work to end gun violence in our community. Part of our collective healing process must include doing everything in our power to prevent future tragedies," said Council Member Kathie Tovo. "As an Austin City Council Member and as a mother, I will continue to advocate for a comprehensive approach to reducing gun crime against Texans – and I call upon all of our elected officials in the State to do the same. As longtime advocacy organizations say: we don't need to live this way – and we don't need to die this way."
 
Austin Mayor Steve Adler said the following: "We implore our Texas Legislature, the Governor and lawmakers to act now to enact common-sense gun reform, adopt red flag laws and do what they were elected to do – serve the will of the people. We see nationally that the majority of Americans support law enforcement and family members to urge judges to remove firearms from those that are posing a threat. For the Broderick and Simmons families, this simple act could have prevented their loss just as it could have saved and will save countless others."

"Words cannot describe the frustration we feel to have lost three of our community members to gun violence – while the Texas legislature doubles down on policies that will cause more loss of life with permitless gun carry bills." said Council Member Leslie Pool. "We call upon our state and federal leaders to listen to the facts and to the majority of Americans who want our leaders to pass stricter gun laws, and do what's right by our communities."
 
"Last weekend, the senseless tragedy we witnessed in Austin showed how the legal system can fail," said Council Member Paige Ellis. "This resolution points out the vital need for Texas to adopt an Extreme Risk Protective Order. We have an obligation to provide the victims of family violence and abuse every legal tool to help protect themselves and the community."
 
To read the full resolution, visit https://www.austintexas.gov/edims/document.cfm?id=358705

Austin Public Works Evaluates Damaged Trees Following Winter Storm



Austin Public Works Evaluates Damaged Trees Following Winter Storm

Apr 21, 2021 08:05 am

Following February's historic winter storm, the Austin Public Works Forestry Team is inspecting vegetation in the public right of way. To ensure the safety of all residents, Forestry will begin proactively removing dead trees in high traffic areas beginning in late April. Residents should report dead or damaged trees in the right of way to Austin 3-1-1.

The "right of way" includes streets, sidewalks, alleys, and other land designated for public use. Many plants in the right of way were severely impacted from the freeze, such as Arizona ash, Chinese tallow, and non-native palms and pine tree species. Professional arborists will evaluate each tree and remove those that pose an immediate threat to public safety. If a tree must be removed, nearby businesses and residents will be notified with a door hanger that provides information on what will be removed, when, and a contact number.

One major focus for the Forestry team is the removal of dead palm trees in the public right of way. Lisa Killander, Public Works Forestry Program Manager, explains that "the longer palms are left standing, the more difficult they become to remove. Rotting palms are heavy and can snap and fall without warning, creating hazardous conditions for pedestrians, drivers, and property." It is estimated that up to 90% of palm trees in Austin are dead.

Residents are responsible for tending to plants that extend from their property into the right of way and for plants they have placed in the right of way. Vegetation that creates a barrier to mobility needs to be pruned, and dead vegetation should be removed to decrease the amount of fuel for wildfires.

While vegetation that residents have planted in the right of way is their responsibility, Forestry will assess the safety risk of palms and other trees in the right of way. If dead plants pose a risk, public safety will be prioritized over property owner responsibility. Property owners who have palms or damaged trees on their property are advised to call a certified arborist and schedule an appointment soon.

The City and Austin residents work together to keep the right of way clear so that everyone can safely access public spaces. Learn more about the importance of right of way maintenance at: AustinTexas.gov/ClearTheROW.



Wednesday, April 21, 2021

CelebrASIA 7th Annual Event Goes Virtual -- Saturday, May 1 at 11:00 AM


CelebrASIA 7th Annual Event Goes Virtual for 2021
Saturday, May 1 at 11:00 AM


The Austin Parks and Recreation Department's Asian American Resource Center (AARC) will host the 7th annual CelebrASIA on Saturday, May 1 at 11:00 AM. CelebrASIA is the AARC's annual signature event that honors Asian Pacific American Heritage month in May. This year's theme is "Uniting Cultures" to celebrate and honor the diverse and multifaceted Asian Pacific American identities, histories and cultures.

"Our community is vast with so many cultures, countries of origin, languages spoken, ethnicities that the term 'Asian Pacific American' doesn't capture all of these identities and complexities," reflects Sona Shah, Culture & Arts Education Manager at the AARC. "Under this theme of 'Uniting Cultures,' we hope to show solidarity with the different communities that fall under 'Asian Pacific American' but also highlight the shared histories and struggles with other communities of color."

CelebrASIA's first segment is a live virtual game show, hosted by Y'all We Asian's Minda Wei. Teams will compete in a game of Asian Pacific American history trivia for the top prize: a basket of goodies from local businesses.

The celebration will continue with a virtual fashion show and musical performances MC'd by Betty Soo, a local singer and songwriter. 

"This past year has been difficult especially for communities of color. In our Asian Pacific American community we are experiencing collective racial trauma from the increase in anti-Asian violence this last year," says Shah.

For the AARC and Austin's Asian Pacific American community, CelebrASIA is an opportunity to not only celebrate cultures and heritage, but also support and uplift each other through tumultuous times.

You can watch this year's CelebrASIA livestream on the AARC's Facebook as well as Austin Parks and Recreation's Facebook and YouTube. In the meantime, RSVP via the Facebook event page to stay up to date.

For more information, visit AustinTexas.gov/AARC

About the Asian American Resource Center
The mission of the AARC is to provide spaces, services, resources, and programs through an Asian American Pacific Islander perspective. The vision is to empower Austin's diverse communities through cultural understanding and life-enhancing opportunities. The AARC offers programs for youth, adult, senior citizens, and ongoing exhibits. The facility is temporarily closed, but continues to offer a variety of digital programming.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Austin Public Health Expands Online Scheduling and Pilots Vaccine Clinic Without Appointments

 

Austin Public Health Expands Online Scheduling and Pilots Vaccine Clinic Without Appointments 

Residents can arrive to Delco Activity Center without an appointment to register on-site Thursday and Friday afternoon 

Austin, Texas – Continuing efforts to provide easier access to the COVID-19 vaccine, Austin Public Health (APH) will expand online scheduling and pilot walk-up vaccination operations on Thurs., Apr. 22 and Fri., Apr. 23 from 12-7:30 p.m., or until vaccines run out, at the Delco Activity Center (4601 Pecan Brook Dr, Austin, TX 78724). 

"We have the vaccine supply and we want to continue to put as many shots in arms as we can," said APH Director Stephanie Hayden-Howard. "As we see a nationwide decline in appointment scheduling, we know we must decrease barriers for individuals to get vaccinated without technological barriers." 

Walk-Up (No Appointment): 

During the vaccine clinic at the Delco Activity Center, residents 18 years of age and older can arrive without an appointment. Residents are not required to pre-register in the APH system because staff and volunteers will gather information and complete the registration on-site prior to their first dose vaccination. You can save time by creating an account in advance.  

If all vaccine is administered before 7:30 p.m., staff and volunteers will help residents who arrive on-site schedule an appointment to return for their vaccine. 

As a reminder, a minimum of 28 days is required for Moderna between first and second doses. Second dose appointments are automatically being scheduled by APH closer to the 28 day mark by email, text or phone call – if someone has not received an appointment they should double check their spam/junk folders. However, after 28 days, individuals can call 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000 to find the next available clinic to receive their second dose without an appointment. They must provide their CDC vaccination card that shows they have received their first dose of Moderna. 

While you do not have to be pre-registered to show up, it is highly encouraged that you create an account and pre-register for the vaccine at https://covid19.austintexas.gov before going to the clinic to save time. 

Expanded Online Scheduling:  

You must have an account to schedule an appointment online. You can register for an account and schedule online at https://covid19.austintexas.gov. Anyone 18 years or older may login today, Apr. 20 at 6:45 p.m. to join the pre-queue with appointments opening at 7 p.m. – the queue will end Fri., Apr. 23 at 7 a.m. 

Going forward, the appointment scheduling system will be open from 7 p.m. on Fridays to 7 a.m. the following Friday and will reopen again at 7 p.m. that evening for appointments for the following week. The 12-hour closure of the scheduling system on Fridays will allow APH to finalize the appointment schedule and update appointment times for the following week. 

Telephone Scheduling: 

If you cannot access the online scheduling system, please call 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000. Call takers can assist with technology issues, account creation, and pre-registration. For additional assistance, they will take your name and number and provide it to APH Equity Hotline for a call back.

For additional COVID-19 information and updates, visit www.AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.

New ‘Southbridge’ Program will Provide Temporary Shelter for People Experiencing Homelessness


New 'Southbridge' Program will Provide Temporary Shelter for People Experiencing Homelessness

Former hotel will be used to shelter encampment residents under HEAL initiative

Homeless Strategy Officer Dianna Grey has identified the proposed location of a 'bridge shelter' program for people moving out of encampments as part of the Austin City Council's HEAL initiative.
 
Bridge shelter provides a temporary, transitional place to stay, often when an individual has been offered a permanent housing intervention, but access to that permanent housing is still being arranged.
 
Under the plans, which are subject to Council approval next month, the newly named Southbridge shelter will operate out of a former hotel temporarily being used as a Protective Lodging facility (ProLodge) for high-risk individuals who need a safe place to maintain social distancing and hygiene practices during the COVID-19 emergency response.
 
The former Rodeway Inn hotel, at 2711 S. IH-35 in south Austin, was purchased by the City in April 2020 using Federal Community Development Block Grant funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and has operated as a ProLodge since August 2020.
 
"Providing immediate access to very low-barrier shelter with direct connections to housing resources is integral to the success of the HEAL strategy to help end unsheltered homelessness," said Homeless Strategy Officer Dianna Grey, who briefed Council on the plan at Work Session today, April 20. "The identification of this property is an important step forward to implementing the HEAL initiative. Southbridge will offer residents a temporary place as they are matched up with longer-term housing resources. We want to work with the local community to ensure this shelter can be a success for both residents and neighbors."

Upon Council approval of an operator's contract, the new bridge shelter, which is currently undergoing renovations, would start operations at the end of May 2021. Current ProLodge guests will be accommodated in other ProLodges in Austin.
 
The new Southbridge shelter will include the following features:
  • On entering the shelter clients will be immediately connected with case workers tasked with linking them to rapid rehousing, which means they would ultimately move on to apartments across the city with rental assistance and ongoing case management supports.
  • This is an invitation-only shelter and will NOT be walk-up, avoiding the need for people to congregate outside the property every day to secure a bed or seek other types of services. Clients will be offered rooms to stay in and receive assistance as they progress into permanent housing. Their expected stay at the bridge shelter is temporary, not indefinite.
  • The property will have on-site security, staffed 24 hours a day, and a new fence will be installed.
  • The property has 87 rooms and each room has a bathroom. Some rooms will be used as offices and meeting spaces. The capacity of the property is likely to be limited due to COVID-19.
The City of Austin's Homeless Strategy Division has spoken with board members from the Timber Ridge Homeowners Association and offered to participate in a virtual open meeting to provide additional information and answer further questions. Engagement with the local community will continue over the coming months.

Earlier this month, the Homeless Strategy Division published a blueprint laying out plans for the first phase of the City Council's Housing-Focused Encampment Assistance Link (HEAL) initiative, designed to address unsheltered homelessness in Austin. Under the plan, the sites of four encampments, in south central, east, downtown, and north west Austin, would be established as non-camping areas by the end of August, following extensive efforts to relocate residents through the provision of dedicated housing resources. A preliminary budget of $4.3 million has been identified and the negotiation of contracts and agreements for outreach, shelter, case management, housing and other support has begun.
 
The Austin City Council has named ending homelessness as the top priority for the city. Using a Housing First approach with a focus on hotel conversion, the City is investing in safe, easily converted living spaces that help people experiencing homelessness access the stability and care they need.

Austin Parks & Recreation Department Now Hiring ∼150 Summer Camp Counselors



Now Hiring Summer Camp Counselors
Earn $15+/Hour! Applicants Must be 18+ Years Old
 


Austin Parks and Recreation (PARD) is now hiring 2021 Summer Camp Counselors. There are nearly 150 open positions including Community Recreation, Cultural and Arts, Nature Based and Adaptive Program Activity Specialists. Applicants must be 18 years or older to apply. Pay starts at $15 per hour.
 
Camp Counselors lead and instruct a variety of programming such as recreational games, sports, performing and visual arts, science/nature education, arts and crafts and team building. The summer camp counselor positions provide an opportunity to serve as role models for kids and teens, and can lead to future full-time employment.
 
In accordance with federal, state and local health authorities, PARD has adopted modified guidelines for COVID-19 health and safety. All staff and campers must wear a mask and complete a daily wellness screening prior to entry. There will be one group or "pod" of no more than 10 people per room: eight youth plus one or two staff.
 
Visit AustinTexas.gov/SummerJobs for more information.

Community Police Review Commission Seeks Feedback on APD Use of Force


Community Police Review Commission Seeks Feedback on APD Use of Force


Community Police Review Commission Hosts 8 Can't Wait Town Hall to Facilitate Community Feedback on Austin Police Department's Policies
The Community Police Review Commission (CPRC) will host the 8 Can't Wait Town Hall focusing on the national "8 Can't Wait" campaign on Wednesday, April 21, 2021, from 6–7:30 p.m. The town hall will be held virtually on Zoom and is open to the public to attend.

"We want to hear directly from community members about their experiences and get their feedback on proposals to make policing safer for everyone," said CPRC chair Amani Seay.

The event will be an opportunity for the community to learn more about how the City of Austin is addressing public safety and  provide feedback on the Austin Police Department's Use-of-Force Policies.

"In the wake of recent officer-involved shootings, the questions about when and how Austin police officers use force have never been more important," said Commissioner Sukyi McMahon. 
 
The 8 Can't Wait campaign is part of a national movement to reduce police brutality. In January 2021, the City of Austin Office of Police Oversight (OPO) released a review of the 8 Can't Wait recommendations as a starting point to recommend changes to APD policies. The town hall hosted by the Community Police Review Commission will build from OPO's recommendations by facilitating community feedback.

At the 8 Can't Wait Townhall, the community will:  To RSVP for the 8 Can't Wait Town Hall, visit atxpolicecommission.org.

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About the Community Police Review Commission:
 
The Community Police Review Commission consists of 10 unpaid volunteers appointed by the city manager to:

  • Make policy-level recommendations regarding discipline, training, community relations, and the complaint process.
  • Address any other issues of concern by the community.
  • Review patterns and practices of the Austin Police Department.
  • Assess critical incidents and review individual cases of police misconduct.
  • Make fair and objective recommendations, and make decisions based only on the facts and evidence.
  • Assess the effectiveness of the Office of Police Oversight.

The commission serves to oversee these matters independently and separately from the Office of Police Oversight and any other City of Austin organization.

Learn more about the CPRC here: atxpolicecommission.org.

Onion Creek Metro Park Gets a Recommitment in Needed Attention

Austin City Council approves resolution to ensure improvements are coming to  Onion Creek Metro Park ...