City publicly identifies two potential sites for sanctioned homeless encampments

Austin City Hall homeless encampments
Tents seen outside Austin City Hall in early June 2021. Photo credit John Zenor/Talk 1370

AUSTIN (Talk1370.com) -- City of Austin staff on Monday publicly identified two locations that they are recommending "for further review and consideration" for the development of sanctioned sites for encampments for those who are experiencing homelessness.

Both of the sites are located on city-owned property. One is located in East Austin, at 3511 Manor Road, in Council District 1; the other site is located in Southwest Austin, at 4011 Convict Hill Road, in Council District 8.

"After careful consideration and vetting of City-owned properties, staff has identified two sites as locations that meet most of the previously identified criteria for use as a legally designated encampments," according to a memo sent to Council members on Monday. "Both properties are owned by the City of Austin, are being held for future creation of affordable housing, and could be used temporarily until that development takes place."

According to the memo, both locations would "likely require rezoning, temporary or conditional use permits, or other entitlements" in order to allow for the sites to be used for pre-fabricated shelters. If approved, both locations would be fenced and include 24/7 staffing if utilized as a temporary designated encampment site.

Council is expected to receive a briefing on the two locations during a work session on July 27. That would be followed by a community engagement process, with city staff working to gather stakeholder feedback including community meetings and opportunities to speak at City Council meetings.

Save Austin Now, the group that brought Proposition B to the ballot in May 2021 to reinstate the city's ban on public camping, issued a statement calling for more study on the proposed locations. "From the beginning Save Austin Now has supported moving the homeless into safe and sheltered environments and ending unregulated camping," the statement reads. "These two sites need to be studied for how they impact neighborhoods and businesses in the immediate area. The location in Southwest Austin risks the safety of Covington Middle School and is immediately near a walking trail and a library. That seems unwise. It is a shame that after 2+ years, we only have two workable regulated encampment locations.