Wednesday, November 1, 2023

City’s HEAL Initiative Closes Encampments at Barwood Park and Tom Donovan Nature Trail at Williamson Creek Greenbelt


 Encampment Clean-Ups Assists 43 People; Over 661 People Assisted Since 2021

AUSTIN, Texas - The City of Austin and community partners welcomed 43 unhoused residents from Barwood Park and Tom Donovan Nature Trail at Williamson Creek Greenbelt to the City’s Northbridge and Southbridge shelters as part of the Housing-Focused Encampment Assistance Link (HEAL) Initiative. The encampments are now officially closed, and enforcement presence will be maintained while cleanup is conducted.
People experiencing homelessness at both sites were offered access to shelter and connection to housing resources. Through a cross-departmental effort, the City developed a mobile encampment assessment tool that measures over 40 factors to prioritize encampments for HEAL intervention.
“Through HEAL, the City recognizes the challenges faced by those experiencing homelessness and commits to providing them with shelter, support and resources, while ensuring their dignity and well-being are upheld every step of the way,” said Interim Homeless Strategy Officer David Gray.
City Council approved the HEAL Initiative in February 2021. The HEAL Initiative is one element of the City’s broader effort to address homelessness and return public spaces to their intended uses. Since HEAL began in June of 2021, over 661 individuals have moved from high-risk encampments to the City’s Northbridge and Southbridge shelters. The successful sheltering and resolution of the encampments at Barwood Park and Tom Donovan Nature Trail at Williamson Creek Greenbelt was a collaborative effort. The Austin Public Health Homeless Strategy Division worked closely with the Homeless Outreach Street Team (HOST), Austin Parks and Recreation Department Outreach, Integral Care, Austin Police Department, the Austin Area Urban League, and other community partners. 

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