Friday, December 30, 2022

Holiday Tree Recycling: Zilker Park:

 Holiday Tree Recycling: Zilker Park Sat, Dec 31, 2022

All Austinites can drop off of their trees for recycling at Zilker Park, even if they are not Austin Resource Recovery customers. 

-Trees sprayed with flocking (artificial snow) are not accepted.

-Remove all ornaments, decorations (including tinsel), lights and tree stands.

-Do not place trees in bags.

-Only natural trees are accepted for recycling.

 

Drop off is between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the following dates:

Sunday, December 31, 2022

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Thursday, December 29, 2022

City of Austin Offices, Facilities Close for New Year’s Holiday 2023

 

Administrative offices and municipal facilities will be closed on January 2 in observance of the New Year's holiday.

The City of Austin has announced revised service schedules and office closures for City facilities and public services for New Year’s Day. 
  
Austin Resource Recovery Trash, Recycling, and Composting and Facility Schedules 
Collections will follow the regular schedule and will not be affected by the upcoming holidays. Customers can check their schedule any time in the Austin Recycles app or at AustinRecycles.com

Austin Public Health
Environmental Health Services at the Rutherford Lane Campus, Office of Vital Records, all WIC and Shots for Tots clinics, and Neighbor Centers will be closed Monday, Jan. 2. 

COVID-19 tests are available at private and non-profit sites throughout Austin, including pharmacies, hospitals and urgent care centers. Those who have private insurance can contact their doctor’s office or insurer for assessment and testing options. Additional resources:  

Visit Vaccines.gov (Vacunas.gov in Spanish) to find flu and COVID-19 vaccine providers near you. 

City of Austin Utilities Schedule
The City of Austin Utilities Customer Care Call Center and City of Austin Utility Customer Service Centers will be closed Saturday, Dec. 31 through Monday, Jan. 2. Customers can make utility payments at coautilities.com or by calling 1-833-375-4919 for a Quick Payment. 

Additional payment options include: 

  • Paying at authorized locations, including most Austin H-E-B, Fiesta Mart, Randall’s and Walmart stores 
  • Mailing money order or check to P.O. BOX 2267, Austin, TX 78783-2267 or using a drop box location  
  • Payment drop boxes are located at the North and South Utility Customer Service Centers, 625 East 10th Street and 505 Barton Springs Rd. Expect 3-5 business days for drop-off payments to process. The payment drop box at the East Branch inside Rosewood-Zaragosa is NOT available at this time. 

Power outages can be reported at outagemap.austinenergy.com or by calling 512-322-9100.

Austin Parks and Recreation
Most Parks and Recreation facilities will be closed for New Year’s on Sunday, Jan 1, 2023 and Monday, Jan. 2, 2023. There are a few exceptions noted below.

  • Golf ATX will not close for New Year’s.
  • Cemetery gates will remain open every day 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Austin Parks and Recreation facility hours vary by location so please call ahead or visit AustinTexas.gov/Parks for hours.

Austin Public Library Schedule  
Austin Public Library will be closed Jan. 1-2 for New Years. 

Library resources available remotely can be accessed at the Austin Public Library Website, library.austintexas.gov.

Austin Animal Center Schedule 
The Austin Animal Center will close at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31 and remain closed through Jan. 1. The Center will be open during regular hours Monday, Jan. 2. 

Downtown Austin Community Court
The Downtown Austin Community Court's Violet KeepSafe Storage will remain open during regular hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 31. It will be closed Sunday, Jan. 1 - Monday, Jan. 2. 
 
For questions about City services or information call 3-1-1. You can also submit service requests from the Austin 3-1-1 mobile app


Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Thursday, January 19, 2023: You're invited to AUS's first "airport open house" // ¡Estas invitado a una reunión comunitaria del aeropuerto

 

Photos of AUS and downtown Austin. Text reads: You're invited to an airport open house (estas invitado a una reunion comunitaria informativa).
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) invites surrounding airport neighbors, the traveling public, and Austin and Central Texas residents to an open house to learn more about our active and upcoming improvement and expansion projects.

Date: Thursday, January 19, 2023
Time: 5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. - Come & go when convenient!
Location: Southeast Branch, Austin Public Library - 5803 Nuckols Crossing Rd, Austin, TX 78744
Parking & Transit Information: Free parking is available in the library’s parking lot. Take transit with CapMetro’s Route 7 and Stop 4342.

This open house will provide attendees a chance to learn more about current projects at the airport and our future plans for development under Journey With AUS airport improvement program. The open house will feature a variety of display boards and tables with airport representatives and interactive activities for community members. Information about careers with AUS will also be provided. Spanish interpretation services will be available.

There will be live music, food, and beverages. Children are welcome, there will be an activity area to keep them busy.
 
We hope to see you there!
* For those interested in doing business with the airport, stay tuned for an industry event coming Spring 2023.
** Visit AustinTexas.gov/AUSJourney for more information about our airport improvement program.
//

El Aeropuerto Internacional Austin-Bergstrom (AUS) invita a los vecinos alrededor del aeropuerto, al público que viaja y a los residentes de Austin y el centro de Texas a una reunión comunitaria para obtener más información sobre nuestros proyectos activos y futuros de mejoramiento y expansión.

Fecha: jueves, 19 de enero de 2023
Hora: 5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. - ¡Puede ir y venir a su conveniencia!
Ubicación: Southeast Branch, Biblioteca Pública de Austin - 5803 Nuckols Crossing Rd, Austin, TX 78744
Información de estacionamiento y tránsito: Hay estacionamiento gratuito disponible en la biblioteca. Tome el transporte público con la ruta 7 de CapMetro y la parada 4342.

Esta reunión comunitaria brindará la oportunidad de aprender más sobre los proyectos actuales en el aeropuerto y nuestros planes futuros para el desarrollo bajo Journey With AUS, el programa de mejoramiento del aeropuerto de Austin-Bergstrom. La reunión contará con una variedad de paneles de exhibición y mesas con representantes del aeropuerto y actividades interactivas para los miembros de la comunidad. También se proporcionará información sobre carreras con AUS. Los servicios de interpretación en español estarán disponibles.

Habrá música en vivo, comida y bebidas. Los niños son bienvenidos, habrá un área de actividades para mantenerlos ocupados.
 
¡Esperamos verlos alli!
* Para aquellos interesados en hacer negocios con el aeropuerto, esten atentos a un evento de industria que se aproxima en la primavera de 2023.

** Visite AustinTexas.gov/AUSJourney para mas informacion sobre nuestro programa de mejoramiento del aeropuerto.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

City of Austin and Partners Shelter Hundreds During Winter Weather

Dozens of staff from the City of Austin and partner agencies helped shelter hundreds of vulnerable people from the cold weather at up to five overnight Cold Weather Shelters between Thursday evening and Tuesday morning. 

Because temperatures remained below freezing on Friday and Saturday during the day, the City extended the operational hours of Cold Weather Shelters to provide continuous operations on both days. 

In addition, four Warming Centers opened Friday and Saturday during the daytime at City facilities that would otherwise have been closed for the holidays, to supplement the Cold Weather Shelters and provide temporary relief from the cold during the day. 

The shelters, warming centers, and staging areas demonstrated progress towards the creation of a robust resilience hub network, providing an opportunity to further test a number of sites for their capacity to provide services.

“Over the past few days and into the holidays, staff – and our community partners – worked around the clock to ensure our City was prepared and that our most vulnerable populations had access to shelter,” said Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk. “Thank you to all those assisting with operations, coordinating logistics, providing education and outreach, working the Cold Weather Shelters and Warming Centers that served hundreds of our unhoused residents, and to our public safety staff who work day in and day out to keep our community safe.” 

With temperatures rising above freezing in the morning hours on Sunday, the City was able to return to regular overnight hours for Cold Weather Sheltering. Guests were provided with breakfast and a box lunch before shelters closed for the day.  

Registration for overnight Shelters reopened later on Sunday for those in need of shelter Sunday night, when temperatures were forecast to dip again. National Weather Service forecasts for Monday night into Tuesday morning suggested that temperatures could briefly dip below freezing in the early morning hours. At about 9 a.m. on Monday morning, following updated forecasts, the decision was made to open Cold Weather Shelters overnight Monday. 
 
The City’s process for running overnight shelters includes registration at a central embarkation point – the One Texas Center on Barton Springs Road – before transportation is provided to one of the shelters. The registration process helps the City manage limited resources, including shelter capacity, as effectively and efficiently as possible. This process also allows the City to move people as a group rather than respond to calls individually across Austin. First responders have direct access to the Austin-Travis County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) if they find someone that needs access or admission to the shelter after the registration period. Due to the extreme temperatures, City departments also established transportation services so that anyone in need after the registration period could contact 3-1-1 to be transported to a shelter location. 

The number of people staying at Cold Weather Shelters ranged from 459, on Friday, Dec. 23, to 115, on Monday Dec. 26. In total, 1,559 shelter stays were recorded between Thursday, Dec. 22 and Monday, Dec. 26.

Under a new Austin Public Health contract, the Austin Area Urban League (AAUL) managed three of the City shelters, while City staff managed additional overflow locations. AAUL also led a distribution center and outreach team, and worked with community groups to distribute meals prepared by Pam’s Kitchen of Walking by Faith Prison Ministry. 10,000 Fearless First Responders provided security designed to make participants feel safe in the space they are in.

"It is the Austin Area Urban League way to serve with purpose and step in when needed, to fuel advocacy in the community - especially for the most vulnerable among us, our brothers and sisters living in an unhoused or homeless status," said Quincy Dunlap, President and CEO, Austin Area Urban League. "The ATX community and City of Austin taking care of the most vulnerable community members is a society advancing and I am proud of this evolution and the AAUL team. Special thanks to the collaborative of community-based partner organizations, the City of Austin, Austin Public Health and various departments, and individual volunteers that helped people get to shelter and related services, get to their families, or shelter in place. We are looking forward to growing the response together and continuously serving together for a greater impact."

Many community groups also focused on supply distribution, outreach and transportation. Groups also distributed shelter-in-place supplies and food, with the primary focus getting people to shelter and/or making sure they had all the information and shelter-in-place supplies they needed. 

Austin Mutual Aid (AMA) coordinated supply and food donations, volunteer drives and outreach teams. Members of AMA staff and volunteers worked alongside Sunrise Homeless Navigation Center, which expanded its hours to offer safety planning, information, and support to its callers. Sunrise Hotline staff also maintained a consistent presence at St. David’s Episcopal Church assisting with in-person work, coordination, and outreach.
 
After the shelter intake process closed each day, various outreach teams from the City, AMA, AAUL, Hungry Hill Foundation (which also led a shelter and supported a second) and We Can Now, drove throughout the city picking people up for shelter, distributing information flyers and providing food and shelter-in-place supplies. They collected and distributed return-to-camp supplies as well.
 
The Community Resilience Trust, which had a direct line of communication with the Austin-Travis County EOC, worked on a range of coordinated actions and requests, such as logistical solutions, translation of information flyers, and communications.
 
Runner City through Mama Noy's Kitchen provided hundreds of meals daily along with Our Shared Kitchen and Carol’s Kindness, which Austin Bicycles helped deliver. Vax Together Austin supplied warming supplies and vaccine information, as well as issuing calls for volunteers.
 
Some of the other organizations supporting the response included: Creative Policy, Proyecto Teatro, the Austin Fire Fighters Association, American Red Cross, Austin Disaster Relief Network, Austin Youth Collaborative, The Other Ones Foundation, Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO), Community First! Village, Urban Alchemy and others.
 
The response included support from multiple City departments and government agencies, including Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Austin Public Libraries, Austin Public Health including its Homeless Strategy Division, Communications and Public Information Office, City Manager's Office, Development Services, Downtown Austin Community Court, Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Human Resources, Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services, Austin Police Department, Austin 3-1-1, Austin Energy, Resilience Office, Sustainability Office, Equity Office, Travis County, Travis County Sherriff's Office, and others. 
 
The City will continue to work closely with community groups to further improve shelter response, outreach, and coordination of resources as part of broader efforts to address homelessness and strengthen community resilience.

To track future Cold Weather Shelter activations, the public can routinely call the Cold Weather Shelter Hotline at 512-305-4233. 


Austin City Manager Announces Austin Water Director

 


Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk has appointed Shay Ralls Roalson as the Austin Water Director. Roalson was selected from a group of 55 applicants and is the first woman to serve in this role. This appointment is effective January 1, 2023.
 
“I am pleased to announce Shay Ralls Roalson as the City of Austin’s next Austin Water Director,” said City Manager Spencer Cronk. “I am confident that her extensive knowledge of Austin Water’s services and programs will bring the leadership and vision we are seeking for the future of our water utility services.”
 
Roalson has 29 years of experience working with water utilities on the planning, design, and construction of complex water and wastewater infrastructure projects. She joined Austin Water as Assistant Director in April 2020, where she leads the engineering services team responsible for delivering the utility’s $1.4 billion five-year capital program. Her team also supports utility operations and leads numerous cross-program area initiatives to maintain and improve system performance and resiliency.
 
“I would like to thank previous Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros for his many years of service and leadership. He led Austin Water with honor and distinction and will be deeply missed,” said Cronk. “I also want to thank Robert Goode for returning to serve Austin as the Interim Austin Water Director since April 2022. His continuing dedication to the City of Austin and the community is greatly appreciated.”
 
Austin Water provides water, wastewater, reclaimed water, conservation, and environmental protection services to over one million residential customers spanning more than 540 square miles of service area. Austin Water is dedicated to delivering safe, reliable, high-quality water and wastewater services that exceed federal and state standards at affordable rates.
 
The Austin Water Director leads a large, complex organization including water and wastewater services and treatment, reclaimed water services, field operations and maintenance, engineering, water resource planning and analysis, customer experience, financial services, and business services for Austin Water. This executive level position reports to the City Manager’s Office.
 
“I am very excited about the opportunity to be the City of Austin’s next Austin Water Director,” said Roalson. “I look forward to creating opportunities to support and empower employees of the department while continuing to build trust in the community in order to provide exceptional water utility services to the residents of Austin.”  
 
Prior to joining Austin Water, Roalson was the Central Texas Water Business Group Manager at HDR Engineering, Inc., where she consulted with utilities across Texas, including Austin Water, San Antonio Water System, and Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority. Roalson received her master’s degree from the University of Texas and is a licensed professional engineer in Texas.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Austin's New Year celebration

 


Live performances, festive foods and fireworks at Auditorium Shores on Saturday, December 31, 2022 from 6 p.m. to midnight.

The lawn will open at 6 p.m. Guests are encouraged to bring picnic blankets and chairs to enjoy the evening’s festivities from the comfort of the lawn.

The event will culminate with fireworks at midnight, a departure from the 10 p.m. fireworks in previous years.

https://www.austintexas.gov/department/austins-new-year

City Pools Closing Due to Freezing Weather

With the arrival of freezing weather conditions Thursday night (12/22), the Austin Parks and Recreations Department will close year-round City pools from Friday, December 23 through Saturday, December 24. 

Aquatics operations will resume regularly scheduled holiday hours on Sunday, December 25, 2022, and normal operating hours on Monday, December 26, 2022 once temperatures are above freezing. 

For pool schedules, please visit: www.austintexas.gov/pools.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Warming Centers to Open Over Holiday Weekend

 

Plus Ways The Community Can Help This Holiday

City of Austin will be opening several Warming Centers over the holiday weekend. Typically, City facilities would be closed during the holidays. However, staffing and facility adjustments have been made to ensure cold weather resources are available for our most vulnerable populations. 

HOURS OF OPERATION  
Friday, Dec. 23 and Saturday, Dec. 24  
8 a.m. to 7 p.m.  

LOCATIONS  

  • Little Walnut Creek Branch Library, 835 W. Rundberg Ln, Austin, TX 78758  

  • Terrazas Branch Library, 1105 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78702  

  • Turner Roberts Recreation Center, 7201 Colony Loop Dr, Austin, TX  78724  

  • George Morales Dove Springs Recreation Center 5801 Ainez Dr 
    Austin, TX 78744 

This information is subject to change as weather conditions change. For the most up-to-date locations and hours please check austintexas.gov/alerts for the most current emergency information in multiple languages.  

WHAT IS A WARMING CENTER 
A Warming Center is a safe place where anyone in the community can come inside to get temporary relief from the cold weather during normal operating hours. Pets are not permitted inside Warming Centers. If someone arrives with a pet, facility staff will contact Animal Services to provide pet support.  

SHELTERING 
The City does not anticipate a need for Emergency Disaster Shelters this weekend. Emergency Disaster Shelters are activated when there is an emergency event that has a widespread impact on the community and displaces people and pets from their homes.  

Cold Weather Shelters are overnight shelters that primarily serve people experiencing homelessness and their animals. The City and its community partners recognize that persons experiencing homelessness are particularly vulnerable during this frigid weather. For individuals and pets who need overnight sheltering, the City of Austin manages different types of daytime and overnight shelter resources options. The City, with contracted support from Austin Area Urban League, is prepared to activate Cold Weather Shelters for people experiencing homelessness this week.    

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION 
Anyone seeking a ride to a Warming Center and does not have a means to pay will still be given a ride if requested. No one will be denied a ride to Warming Center or Cold Weather Shelter on CapMetro services. 

VOLUNTEERING AND DONATIONS 
If members of the community would like to help our most vulnerable, there are several ways to help. 

Please contact the American Red Cross to inquire about donating items or volunteering for the shelter strike team. Contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-733-2767. 

Austin Area Urban League is accepting donations such as socks and clothing for people experiencing homelessness. Supplies can be dropped at Southbridge Shelter at 2711 S. IH 35 Austin, Texas 78741. Contact Austin Area Urban League at aaul.org for more information.  

The Central Texas Food bank is accepting monetary and food donations. Most requested food items are peanut butter, canned chicken or tuna, canned low sodium vegetables, canned fruit in its own juice, dry pinto beans, brown rice, non-fat dry milk and 100% whole grain cereal. Donations can be dropped off at 6500 Metropolis Drive. Austin, Texas 78744 or see centraltexasfoodbank.org for more information or to make a monetary donation.

Austin Forensic Science Services Celebrate 50th Anniversary

This year, the City of Austin’s Forensic Science Services are hitting a milestone, celebrating 50 years of service, and becoming a separate stand-alone department. The department is a nationally accredited laboratory (#FT-0325) established to provide quality forensic services to the City of Austin. The department collects and processes evidence at crime scenes, conducts examinations and analyses of evidence within state-of-the-art laboratory facilities, and reports and testifies to the results in court.  

The City’s forensic services began in 1972 with a handful of people assigned to the Austin Police Department’s Photo-Identification Section, Chemistry Lab, and an Evidence Room. Since that time, there have been major changes in forensic structure, facilities, staff, and mission. Today, the Forensic Science Department consists of accredited Crime Scene, Latent Prints, Firearms & Toolmarks, Toxicology, and Seized Drugs sections, and forensic support services of Multi-Media, Polygraph, Case Management, and Evidence Control. Forensic services are provided by nearly 90 civilian employees within the Department. 

This year, the City removed Forensic Sciences out of the Austin Police Department as part of the budget and Reimagining Public Safety process. Operational autonomy and independence from law enforcement enhances impartial scientific and forensic support services to the community and criminal justice system. The department is led by Dr. Dana Kadavy. Its mission is to provide accurate and impartial scientific analysis and support services to the criminal justice system while maintaining the highest level of quality and professionalism. 

“We want to ensure survivors trust forensic services and secure the justice they deserve," said Dr. Kadavy. “This is an extra layer of autonomy and independence that we hope will provide comfort while ensuring we're able to provide the highest quality services for our community.”

A few recent accomplishments include: 

  • Generated over 5,000 forensic results that contributed to solving major crimes in Austin including identification of a 1986 cold-case murder suspect using forensic genealogy.  

  • Recognized by the Organization of Scientific Area Committees for voluntarily implementing rigorous standards in scientific testing, protocols, and best practices to ensure forensic results that are reliable and reproducible.  

  • Led the City’s 24/7, 365 crime scene response services by investigating over 3,000 scenes in 2021 alone, overcoming challenges of pandemic, hazardous weather conditions, and record staff vacancies.  

  • Destruction of 494 firearms and 1,785lbs of seized drugs in 2022. 

Learn more by visiting https://www.austintexas.gov/department/forensic-science.


City of Austin Offices, Facilities Close for Christmas and New Year’s Holiday

 

Administrative offices and municipal facilities will be closed December 23, 26, and January 2 in observance of the upcoming holidays

The City of Austin has announced revised service schedules and office closures for City facilities and public services for Christmas and New Year’s Day. 
  
Austin Resource Recovery Trash, Recycling, and Composting and Facility Schedules 
Collections will follow the regular schedule and will not be affected by the upcoming holidays. Customers can check their schedule any time in the Austin Recycles app or at AustinRecycles.comThe Recycle and Reuse Drop-off Center and the Hornsby Bend Biosolids Management Plant will be closed Saturday, Dec. 24. 

Austin Public Health
Environmental Health Services at the Rutherford Lane Campus, Office of Vital Records, all WIC and Shots for Tots clinics, and Neighbor Centers will be closed Friday, Dec. 23 through Monday, Dec. 26, as well as Monday, Jan. 2. 

COVID-19 tests are available at private and non-profit sites throughout Austin, including pharmacies, hospitals and urgent care centers. Those who have private insurance can contact their doctor’s office or insurer for assessment and testing options. Additional resources:  

Visit Vaccines.gov (Vacunas.gov in Spanish) to find flu and COVID-19 vaccine providers near you. 

City of Austin Utilities Schedule
The City of Austin Utilities Customer Care Call Center and City of Austin Utility Customer Service Centers will be closed Friday, Dec. 23 through Monday, Dec. 26 and Saturday, Dec. 31 through Monday, Jan. 2. Customers can make utility payments at coautilities.com or by calling 1-833-375-4919 for a Quick Payment. 

Additional payment options include: 

  • Paying at authorized locations, including most Austin H-E-B, Fiesta Mart, Randall’s and Walmart stores 
  • Mailing money order or check to P.O. BOX 2267, Austin, TX 78783-2267 or using a drop box location  
  • Payment drop boxes are located at the North and South Utility Customer Service Centers, 625 East 10th Street and 505 Barton Springs Rd. Expect 3-5 business days for drop-off payments to process. The payment drop box at the East Branch inside Rosewood-Zaragosa is NOT available at this time. 

Power outages can be reported at outagemap.austinenergy.com or by calling 512-322-9100.

Austin Parks and Recreation
Most Parks and Recreation facilities will be closed for the Christmas holiday Friday, Dec. 23, 2022 through Monday, Dec. 26, 2022, and will be closed for New Year’s on Sunday, Jan 1, 2023 and Monday, Jan. 2, 2023. There are a few exceptions noted below.

  • Barton Springs, Bartholomew, Big Stacy, Deep Eddy and Springwoods Pools will be open on Friday, Dec. 23. Then, on Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022, all Aquatic Facilities will close at 4 p.m. except Barton Springs Pool. On Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, all Aquatic Facilities will be closed except Barton Springs Pool.
  • On Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022, all Golf ATX courses will close at 1 p.m. and will be closed all day on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022. Golf ATX will not close for New Year’s.
  • Cemetery gates will remain open every day 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Austin Parks and Recreation facility hours vary by location so please call ahead or visit AustinTexas.gov/Parks for hours.

Austin Public Library Schedule  
Austin Public Library will be closed Friday, Dec. 23 through Monday, Dec. 26 in observance of Christmas, and Jan. 1-2 for New Years. 

Library resources available remotely can be accessed at the Austin Public Library Website, library.austintexas.gov.

Austin Animal Center Schedule 
The Austin Animal Center will be closed through Dec. 24-26. The Center will be open for regular hours on Tuesday, Dec. 27. The Center will close at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31 and remain closed through Jan. 1. The Center will be open during regular hours Monday, Jan. 2. 
 
For questions about City services or information call 3-1-1. You can also submit service requests from the Austin 3-1-1 mobile app.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Cold Weather Shelter Activation Information


The City is monitoring a winter weather event that is expected to impact Austin over the next few days. Temperatures could dip into the teens as soon as this weekend.
 
The City, with contracted support from Austin Area Urban League, is prepared to activate cold weather shelters for people experiencing homelessness. The response is being supported by a number of City departments including Austin Public Health, Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Austin Police Department, Municipal Court, and Parks and Recreation.
 
COLD WEATHER SHELTER ACTIVATION - CRITERIA
It remains the goal of the Cold Weather Shelter program to provide shelter to anyone seeking a warm place to sleep when temperatures hit a certain determined threshold, and to ensure that anyone requesting shelter is accommodated and not turned away.

Activation is determined by Austin Public Health (APH) no later than 9:00 a.m. each day using National Weather Service (NWS) projections for the Camp Mabry Location. These projections may be accessed by going to the NWS website and entering the 78703 zip: 7-Day Forecast 30.27N 97.74W (weather.gov)
 
The decision to activate is made by 9:00 a.m. each day to allow the time required to activate and mobilize all the required resources. Camp Mabry has been selected as the official National Weather Service location for assessing temperatures due to its central location and proximity to Downtown, where a significant number of people experiencing homelessness live.

The City is prepared to activate Cold Weather Shelters multiple nights in a row if the thresholds are met. When temperatures do not rise above freezing during the day, the shelters will remain open during that time.
 
The City will activate Cold Weather Shelters if the forecast is predicted to be:

  • 32 degrees or colder overnight
  • 35 degrees, with rain/wet
  • 35 degrees, with wind chill of 32 or colder

 
NOTIFICATION TO ACTIVATE

  • Cold Weather Shelter Hotline updated to indicate activation - 512-305-ICEE (4233)
  • APH sends an email to a community communication portal and other organizations involved in outreach and information to unsheltered individuals.
  • HSEM sends a text to phone numbers registered on the alert system.

 
HOW PEOPLE CAN ACCESS A COLD WEATHER SHELTER
While Cold Weather Shelters are primarily accessed by people experiencing homelessness, they are available to anyone in need of a warm place to spend the night.

  • Registration, which takes place at a central location, begins at 6:00 p.m. and closes at 8:00 p.m.
  • Individuals can obtain the location of the central registration site by calling the Cold Weather Shelter Hotline - 512-305-ICEE (4233).
  • CapMetro transports individuals from the central registration location to a Cold Weather Shelter.
  • In the morning, CapMetro buses transport individuals leaving the Cold Weather Shelters to the downtown area.

 
GUIDANCE FOR COLD WEATHER SHELTER GUESTS

  • On nights when a Cold Weather Shelter is activated, CapMetro will not require any fee/ticket for anyone that tells a driver they are going to a Cold Weather Shelter.
  • People can bring their belongings, as long as they can transport them to the central registration location and on to a CapMetro Bus.
  • Pets are allowed, if they are not aggressive, able to be around others, have a leash, and can sleep with owner. If a pet needs a crate for the evening, at the Cold Weather Shelter, individuals should let staff know at the central location when registering.
  • Meals will be provided at the Cold Weather Shelter
  • Women/Couples will be able to be at the same Cold Weather Shelter, but in a separate area, as capacity allows. 


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
During regular business hours (generally 8am to 5pm), Austinites can utilize facilities such as public libraries and recreation centers to warm up.
 
In the case of a more widespread winter weather emergency, where there are extensive power outages or basic Cold Weather Shelter capacity is exhausted, the City’s Emergency Disaster Shelters would be activated.

BACKGROUND TO COLD WEATHER SHELTER PROVISION
Following the arrival of COVID-19, Austin’s network of community-operated Cold Weather Shelters for people experiencing homelessness was disrupted and no longer able to provide the support it had in previous years. The City responded by adapting to fill in the gaps, leaning on City facilities and employees to provide the necessary support for our unhoused population.

Even so, during the cold weather events of almost a year ago, the City successfully sheltered more than 2,000 people over 17 nights.

As part of a plan to address some of the challenges recently highlighted by the Auditor, the FY23 budget included new funding to contract with a third-party provider for regular Cold Weather Shelter activities. This winter, following Council’s recent approval of a contract with the Austin Area Urban League (AAUL) to provide shelter operations during cold weather activation periods, AAUL will support City of Austin Cold Weather Shelter activities, with a plan to assume full responsibility during the 2023/2024 winter season. In the meantime, the City has updated its plans to make clear when shelters will be activated.

How to Prepare Your Home and Business from Freezing Water Pipes

 



Monday, December 19, 2022

Prepare for Extreme Winter Weather This Holiday Week

 


Temperatures forecasted in the teens and 20s Thursday through the weekend 

The City of Austin Homeland Security Emergency Management (HSEM) encourages the community to prepare for winter weather as the temperature drops ahead of the holiday weekend. Don’t wait for the freeze, get ready now!  

“The most important gift you can give your family this season is to get prepared in advance of anticipated chilly temperatures,” said HSEM Director Juan Ortiz. “As you prepare for time with your loved ones please make sure you included winter weather preparations as part of your holiday weekend plans.”  

Austinites are asked to follow the four P’s for winter weather safety:  

  • People – Before going outside, dress in layers to protect yourself from the cold. While heating your home, do not use a generator, grill, camp-stove, or any gasoline, propane, or charcoal-burning device because they generate deadly carbon monoxide gas 

  • Pets – Bring your pets inside to keep them warm and safe  

  • Pipes – Insulate or cover exposed pipes to protect them from freezing, turn off outside faucets, drip ONE faucet only if needed 

  • Plants – cover your plants or bring them in  

“The current weather forecast does not call for precipitation or ice, so our concern right now is frigid temperatures and making sure our most vulnerable populations have resources,” said HSEM Deputy Director Aoife Longmore. “We are monitoring conditions and will be standing by over the holiday weekend with additional resources that can be activated as needed. We currently do not anticipate a need for widespread emergency sheltering for our community this weekend.”

Stay informed and get prepared before the weekend: 

  • Download the Ready Central Texas phone application for iPhone or Android phones to get alerts and a digital copy of the Neighborhood Preparedness Guide 

  • The most important thing community can do is to get prepared and stay informed:  Sign up at Warn Central Texas to receive alerts for your neighborhood, letting you know when to take immediate action to stay safe 

  • In an emergency, follow www.austintexas.gov/alerts to get up to date emergency information in multiple languages  

  • Follow @AustinHSEM on Facebook and Twitter 
  • Make a Plan: Before an emergency sit down with your family to plan out what you may need to shelter at home or what you need if you have to evacuate. Use the Neighborhood Preparedness Guide to help you get started.  

  • Build a Kit: Once you know your plan and have your supply list, build a kit of needed emergency supplies in a go-bag so it can be used quickly. Include items like medication, pet supplies and use a check list to help get started.  

  • Know your Neighbors: In an emergency, your neighbors are the closest resource and can often be the fastest to respond. Making friends with your neighbors can also have more benefits than just during an emergency. 

  • Stay Informed: There are many ways to stay informed before, during and after an emergency. Follow readycentraltexas.org for emergency preparedness information.

Visit readycentraltexas.org for more emergency preparedness information and recommendations from City of Austin utility partners to keep you, your family, home and neighbors safe and warm this winter.   

To receive emergency alerts in American Sign Language (ASL) register through the City’s Accessible Hazard Alert System (AHAS), or for quick SMS registration text AHAS to (737) 241-3710. Austin and Travis County AHAS subscribers in an area affected by an emergency or disaster will be able to receive an accessible alert message in ASL and English voice and text.  

When Cold Weather Shelters for people experiencing homelessness are activated this hotline will be updated with shelter details: Cold Weather Shelter Hotline at 512-305-ICEE (4233). 

Community Input Invited on Draft Plan for Use of Federal Grant to Address Homelessness

Draft plan for the HOME-ARP grant is available for public view and comment from December 28 to January 11; Public hearing scheduled on January 10

The City of Austin is eligible to receive $11.4 million of HOME-American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds and asks the community to review the City’s proposal—referred to as an allocation plan—and provide comments on the recently revised draft. In order to ensure congruency with federal regulations, the HOME-ARP allocation draft plan has been revised subsequent to the October 2022 public comment period. The third public comment period for the revised allocation plan draft will be open from December 28 through January 11 with a Community Development Commission public hearing scheduled for January 10.  

The American Rescue Plan allocated $5 billion to assist people who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, and other populations experiencing housing insecurity. This one-time funding—up to $11.4 million for Austin— can be spent on various projects with the goal of reducing homelessness and increasing housing stability. The following activities are eligible for funding by HOME-ARP- 

  • Supportive services; 
  • Acquisition and development of non-congregate shelters;  
  • Tenant-based rental assistance (TBRA);  
  • Development of affordable rental housing; 
  • Non-profit operating expenses; and 
  • Non-profit capacity building. 

To comply with federal funding requirements, the city must submit an allocation plan to the Housing and Urban Development department via an amendment to the FY2021-2022 Action Plan, which states how the city plans to use the $11.4 million grant and describes the process to gather community feedback.

On December 28, 2022 through January 11, 2023, the revised HOME-ARP allocation plan draft and a description of the proposed use of the $11.4 million grant will be available to the public through the City of Austin’s public engagement hub, Public Input, also known as Speak Up Austin. The public will be able to view the revised HOME-ARP allocation plan and submit comments on the proposal.

The public is also invited to testify at a public hearing with the Community Development Commission on January 10. Public comment will be accepted in-person or remotely by telephone, and speakers will be allowed up to three minutes to provide their comments. Registration no later than noon the day before the meeting is required for remote participation. Pre-registration is not required for in-person participation. To register, call or email the board liaison at 512-974-1606 or jesse.gutierrez@austintexas.gov 

ADA and Equal Opportunity Compliance Statement 
The City of Austin is committed to compliance with the American with Disabilities Act. Reasonable modifications and equal access to communications will be provided upon request.  Meeting locations are planned with wheelchair access. If requiring Sign Language Interpreters, translation services, or alternative formats, please give notice by calling 512-974-1606 at least 2 days prior to the meeting date. TTY users route through Relay Texas at 711. For more information on the Community Development Commission, please contact Jesse Gutierrez at 512-974-1606.   
CDC Commissioners may contact CTM for email/technology assistance: 512-974-4357. 

About Housing and Planning Department 
The Housing and Planning Department provides resources related to planning, zoning, housing, and community development to enhance the quality of life of all Austinites. Equitable, efficient, and comprehensive planning with displacement prevention as a prioritized focus is the Department’s core charge in delivering housing services to the community. 

APD's 2022 Christmas/New Year's DWI Enforcement 'No Refusal Initiative'

This holiday season, Austin Police Department (APD) officers will be on patrol and looking out for drunk drivers. At the same time, a 'No Refusal Initiative' will be in effect and coincide with the upcoming Christmas and New Year's. This operation will be in effect each night from December 15 through January 1st.

This initiative is an effort to enforce DWI laws and keep the public safe by encouraging drivers to make responsible decisions and to apply for blood search warrants on suspects who refuse to provide a breath or blood specimen as required by law.

The Austin Police Department and the City of Austin Transportation Department continue to focus on preventing deaths on Austin's streets, highways, and waterways. APD is dedicated to making the roadways and waterways of Austin safe for residents and visitors through education and enforcement.

Don't drink and drive.

#EndTheStreakTX

Children 6 Months to 5 Years Old Now Eligible for COVID-19 Bivalent Boosters

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that Children 6 months to 5 years of age are now eligible to receive the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 bivalent boosters. Until the CDC’s announcement, children within this age range were only able to get the Pfizer primary series of vaccines.  

Bivalent boosters provide more protection against severe illness from COVID-19 as the virus mutates. You can find out when to get a booster for your child or yourself by going to the CDC’s Stay Up to Date With COVID-19 Vaccines page. 

Ninety five percent of children ages 6 months to five years of age in the U.S. have not yet been vaccinated. To find a COVID-19 vaccine near you, including boosters, please visit APH’s Get a COVID-19 vaccine page. 

West Nile precautions recommended despite heading into winter season

 

First human case of West Nile virus confirmed in Travis County 

The Austin Public Health (APH) Disease Surveillance Unit confirms the area’s first human case of West Nile virus this year. The individual who tested positive for the virus is not a traveler, and therefore, we can assume that it was contracted locally. Routine testing performed by APH identified the first positive mosquito pool in July. A total of six positive mosquito pools were identified consisting of zip codes 78759, 78754, 78723, 78721, 78704, and 78744. 

Mosquitoes are present in Central Texas year-round, but the population is largest and most active from May through November. During this period, the APH Environmental Vector Control Unit monitors the mosquito population. 

“Warm, wet weather is prolonging the mosquito season and we should take steps to prevent getting mosquito bites when around standing water,” said Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes. 

Most people infected with West Nile virus do not experience symptoms. About 20 percent will develop a fever and mild, flu-like symptoms including headache, body aches, a skin rash and swollen lymph gland. People over 60 years of age are at greater risk of developing serious disease, as are those with medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease. Organ transplant recipients are also at risk for more severe forms of disease.    

West Nile virus is the most common mosquito-borne disease in the United States. West Nile virus is not spread through coughing, sneezing, or touching other people or live animals.

Know the dangers and fight the bite with the Four Ds:     

  • Dusk through dawn: Although different species of mosquitoes are active at different times of day, the Culex species that spreads West Nile Virus are most active between dusk and dawn. Make sure any open windows are screened to prevent mosquitoes from entering the room.  

  • Dress: Wear light-colored, loose-fitting pants and long sleeves when spending time outside. Mosquito-resistant clothing is also available   

  • DEET: Apply insect repellent that contains DEET. Read and follow label instructions. Spray both exposed skin and clothing with repellent.   

  • Drain: Get rid of standing water in your yard and neighborhood. Old tires, flowerpots, clogged rain gutters, birdbaths and wading pools can be breeding sites for mosquitoes.

For more information on West Nile virus, visit www.AustinTexas.gov/WestNile 

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