AUSTIN, TX – At an Austin City council meeting Tuesday, members discussed the idea of purchasing vacant hotels and motels to house the homeless. They have listed multiple properties ranging from $2.5 million to $8.5 million and have around six to 142 rooms. The hotels that the council are considering have been on the market between 18 to 165 days with the oldest property being built in 1916 and the newest built in 1998.
After hearing about the possible purchases, Bee Cave Mayor Monty Parker expressed his opinion when a rumor of purchasing Mountain Star Lodge came to light stating, “To hear that Austin consider exporting the problem they created to a small city like ours with no public transportation or resources is mind-boggling.”
Moreover, the City of Austin responded with no intentions of purchasing properties that are in neighboring cities without having a discussion with that city. They also are not looking at any property outside the city limits either.
Austin’s homeless strategy officer, Lori Pampilo-Harris expressed the need for having more shelter space and purchasing vacant properties like this is a good opportunity for supportive housing.
She exclaims, “The structure is already there, the additional things that we would need in our community is property managements and case services.”
Furthermore, according to Communication Director Corey Leith, he provided an example on the need for creating more shelter space for the homeless. The Salvation Army was the highlight of this, as its two Austin shelters remain at full capacity and more than 400 individual families are on the waiting list.
He also adds on, “Our demographic on the wait list is the hidden homeless factor. We have families who are living in their cars, couch-surfing, and living in storage units. Those are the people who are contacting every week to see if we have availability at one of our shelters.”
Overall, the City of Austin purchasing these hotels and motels for the homeless means one less person off the streets and one less family who won’t have to worry about where their next bed will be.