The Austin City Council will decide whether to buy two hotels and transform them into permanent supportive housing for people who are homeless.
The city will spend about $16 million from the general obligation bonds of its Housing and Planning Department to acquire the two properties and then utilize some money from a $6.5 million fund diverted from the police department’s budget to offer some services to the residents of the hotels. At full occupancy, services and operating costs for these hotels would be almost $3.8 million per year.
The City Council voted to cut more than $20 million from the budget of the police department. Expenses like cadet classes were cancelled, overtime spending was reduced, and contracts for things like license plate readers were eliminated.
By moving certain civilian functions out, like dispatch and the forensics lab, the department would cut about $80 million, although that money will still be spent on funding those civilian functions, just not within the department.
Some council members suggested that the vote be postponed so they hear community members’ opinions and as well as the views of the businesses near the hotels. According to council members, the city should explore opening up more sanctioned campgrounds where homeless people will continue to live outside instead.
The proposal states that Austin would purchase a property from Texas Bungalows Hotel & Suites and another one from Candlewood Suites in northwest Austin. Both hotels are close to retail services and public transit.
The Candlewood Suites hotel which has 83 rooms was built in 2018. These rooms all feature full kitchenettes and air conditioners. The property also features amenities such as on-site laundry, computer room, and outdoor patio space. The Texas Bungalows Hotel & Suites property which features 41 kitchenettes and 65 rooms was also built in 2018.