Wednesday, June 7, 2023

City of Austin Emergency Shelter Capacity to Expand by 130 in the Coming Weeks


Beginning this month, the City of Austin will expand shelter to an additional 130 people experiencing homelessness as part of an aggressive and targeted strategy to address homelessness in the Austin community. 

The 130 shelter beds are being created by converting rooms from single to double occupancy at the City’s Northbridge and Southbridge shelters. This move is part of an effort to provide expanded emergency shelter capacity in tandem with the community’s ongoing efforts to provide permanent housing for an additional 3,000 Austinites by the end of 2024. The Northbridge conversion is expected to be completed this week, with new beds available by June 13. Furnishings and equipment are on order for the Southbridge shelter, with a goal of welcoming additional guests in July. 

“Homelessness is a social and economic condition, caused by a large number of factors. As a City, we have the responsibility to care for the homeless in our communities in a way which advocates for all their needs - health, safety, shelter, and economic support,” District 4 Council Member José “Chito” Vela said. “That’s why I’m so glad the Interim City Manager and the Mayor have made it a priority to increase our emergency shelter bed capacity.” 

Vela and Council Members José Velásquez, District 3, and Zohaib “Zo” Qadri, District 9, recently toured the Southbridge shelter as modifications to transition from single to double occupancy are underway. 

"The Southbridge shelter provides vital support to some of the most vulnerable members of our community,” Velásquez said. “In a recent visit to the shelter, I saw first-hand how the residents are provided with support services and connected to stable housing. The decision to adopt innovative strategies that allow for double occupancy will significantly maximize the shelter’s potential, decrease the number of people experiencing homelessness and bring us closer to our City’s goal of reducing unsheltered homelessness."  

In addition to an intensified effort to provide emergency shelter options, the City is working to increase the number of Austinites that can be housed in permanent supportive housing. Permanent supportive housing capacity has already been increased, with by about 500 clients served since January of 2021, and another 1,000 units for people exiting homelessness are in the development pipeline. 

"If we want to live up to our reputation as a compassionate city, we need to do everything we can to help our least fortunate neighbors who are sleeping on our streets and in our creeks. That includes short-term solutions like expanding our shelter capacity and long-term solutions that address the root causes of homelessness,” Qadri said. “I look forward to working with all of our partners to ensure that every step we take on this journey is cohesive, collaborative, and well-coordinated."  

This week, the Austin City Council will consider a 12-month lease agreement for the former Salvation Army Downton Shelter, as well as a contract with Urban Alchemy to operate the recently-shuttered site with capacity to serve 150 people nightly. Later this summer, Council will consider providing up to 300 more beds by establishing a temporary emergency shelter facility at the City-owned Marshalling Yard, located on Airport Commerce Drive near the intersection of U.S. 183 and TX 71. 

To learn more about homelessness in Austin, please visit

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