Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Council's Public Health Committee Moves Forward to Bring a Trauma Recovery Center to Austin


Resolution will be voted on for full consideration by Council on March 24

On Wednesday, March 9, 2022, the Austin City Council Public Health Committee unanimously adopted a resolution to bring a Trauma Recovery Center to Austin. Through recommendations by the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force and nonprofit Alliance for Safety and Justice, this item directs staff to explore costs and feasibility as well as bring in stakeholders to ensure a community-centered approach in this process. 
Trauma Recovery Centers, or TRCs, provide free, culturally responsive trauma-informed therapy and case management for survivors of all violent crime. This is regardless of any involvement with the criminal legal system or immigration status. 
“We desperately need a trauma recovery center in Austin,” said Council Member Vanessa Fuentes, author of the resolution and vice chair of the Public Health Committee. “They are powerful tools in healing communities. Not only are trauma recovery centers a critical way to improve public safety and end cycles of trauma and violence, but they are also designed to reach survivors who the current system has left behind.”
The first trauma recovery center model was created in 2001 by the University of California, San Francisco in partnership with the City and County of San Francisco's Department of Public Health. Since, thirty-five TRCs have been implemented in more than six states. Dr. Alicia Boccellari, who spoke at today’s committee meeting, is the founder of the TRC model. 
“Alliance for Safety and Justice and our flagship—Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice—have long advocated for a trauma recovery center to serve victims in Austin,” said Terra Tucker, Texas state director for Alliance for Safety and Justice. “We are excited about recent progress, and we thank Council Member Fuentes, members of the Public Health Committee, and Mayor Pro Tem Alter for their leadership. A trauma recovery center will complement existing services and help address the needs of those most impacted by violence.”
TRCs address the needs of survivors who are traditionally underserved, such as individuals experiencing street and gun violence, people who are unhoused, LGBTQ+ victims and communities of color.
“Trauma causes long standing suffering, impedes health and creates barriers to self-sufficiency and quality of life,” said Council Member Ann Kitchen, co-sponsor of the resolution. “The trauma recovery center is an innovation whose time has come for Austin—a community-based way for people to have a chance at recovery.”
“Survivors of violence have benefitted from the broad-based support offered by trauma recovery centers in other communities,” said Council Member Kathie Tovo, chair of the Public Health Committee. “I’m eager to see how Austin might support such a model as part of our ongoing effort to make this community safer.”
The resolution goes before City Council for full consideration on March 24. If adopted, the City Manager has 60 days to report back. Funding sources should be identified and include $500,000 for the next two fiscal years to support the startup costs of the center. 
“I believe that if we want to break the cycle of violence, we need to take a public health approach and innovate within our criminal justice system,” said Mayor Pro Tem Alison Alter, who helped advise direction in the resolution. “In partnership with Travis County and many other organizations, a trauma recovery center can help provide justice and healing to victims of violence and trauma.”
The Public Health Committee includes Chair Kathie Tovo, vice chair Vanessa Fuentes and members Steve Adler, Ann Kitchen and Natasha Harper-Madison.

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