Friday, March 25, 2022

Council Member Vela Thanks Austin Community After Successful Housing Efforts for St. Johns Homeless Camp

Today, Austin City Council Member Jose “Chito” Vela helped finalize the rehousing of the St. Johns Park homeless camp residents, a process his office began facilitating last month. As of March 22, 2022, the City of Austin Homeless Strategy Office successfully re-evaluated the St. Johns camp and prioritized its residents for inclusion in the HEAL Initiative.

The process of housing residents and closing the camp began several weeks ago, and Vela expects the camp to close completely by March 29, 2022. Following the closure, the city will erect fencing to preempt future camping in the area.

Council Member Vela stated, “When I took office, my intention was to locate housing for camp residents and close the St. John’s camp as soon as possible, in accordance with the law. I’m overjoyed to announce that, as a result of the hard work of city employees, community organizations, and my office, the St. Johns camp residents will be permanently housed today.”

The City of Austin’s Homeless Strategy Office exhibited admirable care and compassion in their interactions with the camp residents, and Council Member Vela thanks the office for prioritizing the housing and safety needs of the St. Johns residents.

Vela and his office also extend their gratitude to community leaders like the Austin Area Urban League, Community Resilience Trust, Little Petal Alliance, and Queertopia TX for their tireless efforts assisting unhoused neighbors in the area.

The Community Resilience Trust, which led coordination efforts between the city and community organizations, released a statement. Ruben Cantu, co-founder, stated, “An equitable city does not happen by accident. It’s intentional. We had an intention - and appreciate everyone who stepped into it and made it happen, including the Homeless Strategy Office and Council Member Vela.”

Janis Bookout, co-founder, added, “I’m just grateful to have been a part of this incredible experience and meeting these beautiful people. I’ll never get over it.”

The Austin Area Urban League commented, “The AAUL has made a commitment to support our unhoused friends in partnership and community. Today we saw that vision breathe new life. If we ever are to truly address our housing crisis, it will take us all coming together as we did today.”

Queertopia TX co-founder Chris Gould added, “The best person for the job is the one who has lived it. Today proved that the best leaders come from the community itself.”

Finally, Council Member Vela thanks the surrounding St. Johns neighborhood residents for their patience and understanding. The neighborhood’s goodwill towards the process of housing the camp residents made the relocation possible without significant community strife.

Luke Curry, Queertopia TX member and St. Johns camp leader, commented, “St. John’s is our home… We are so blessed that this has happened, and that we get to stay together. This shows hard work and dedication and that people are bigger than their circumstances and can step up to the call of duty.”

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