After discussions with the City of Austin, the local advisory board of The Salvation Army Austin Area Command (The Salvation Army) has agreed to extend its downtown shelter operations for up to 30 days. The extension will cost up to $100,000, funded by the City. In the meantime, the organization will coordinate with the City’s Homeless Strategy Division and other service partners to facilitate the placement of clients. If case management is not available in new temporary housing settings, The Salvation Army staff will continue to provide that service to their clients.
The City Council’s Public Health Committee met on March 8, and committee members expressed concern about The Salvation Army shelter’s planned closure on March 15 and the impact on clients. Public Health Committee members requested that The Salvation Army extend its downtown operations to allow for safe placement of all clients.
Austin Interim City Manager Jesús Garza authorized the Homeless Strategy Division to exhaust all options to find placements for The Salvation Army clients. Today, staff reported to Council that the Homeless Strategy Division and community partners have identified alternative shelter or housing for approximately 50 remaining shelter clients.
Clients of The Salvation Army will likely be accommodated in a variety of settings, including local shelters, apartments secured by a service provider, transitional housing programs, board and care homes, and, if needed, hotel stays arranged through a nonprofit partner.
“Addressing this crisis in such a short period of time has only been possible through the collaboration and creativity of our community partners – over a dozen of whom have stepped forward to offer shelter beds, housing, and other resources,” Homeless Strategy Officer Dianna Grey said. “We also appreciate the willingness of The Salvation Army to extend operations to allow for a more thoughtful transition.”
This morning, the Homeless Strategy Division and other service providers visited clients and case managers at the downtown shelter to give an overview of relocation options and answer questions about the process. Clients were assured that they would be offered a local placement before the shelter closes.
“The residents of The Salvation Army shelter should never have been left in limbo as they were, but I truly appreciate that folks from our Homeless Strategy Division and Austin Public Health have stepped in to help the residents with compassion and urgency to ensure everyone has a safe space to stay,” Mayor Kirk Watson said. “From day one, I’ve pushed The Salvation Army to keep the shelter open while they sell the building and they’ve finally relented at least for the short term. While this is a temporary solution to an emergency, the work done here represents the kind of responsive service the City is now delivering to all its residents. I thank the City employees involved.”
Next steps include communication and dialogue with The Salvation Army clients, completing the process of matching clients to available locations, and coordinating logistics of program intake, transportation, and move-in. The Homeless Strategy Division will continue to regularly report on progress until all shelter clients are accommodated.
To learn more about homelessness in Austin, please visit www.austintexas.gov/