Today we wrap up our third year of working to stop the Candlewood hotel on Pecan Park Boulevard in Austin from becoming a homeless shelter.
Jan. 25, 2021, was the day Pecan Park neighbors found out via a local newspaper that the Candlewood was earmarked to become a shelter — with no effort by the city to inform residents or businesses (a process that has yet to be fixed).
Please take a moment and review the highlights of 2023 from the front lines of our efforts to be both empathetic to the struggles of the unhoused and to take an unapologetic stand against this horrible plan forced upon us by Austin's homelessness-industrial complex!
CANDLEWOOD COST JUMPS YET AGAIN
The estimated cost went from around $15 million to $17 million to remodel the Candlewood into what is known as Permanent Supportive Housing (or PSH) for just 70 people. See our full cost analysis here: https://www.movecandlewood.com/post/analysis-candlewood-cost-jumps-to-17-million Watch founder Rupal Chaudhari's remarks to the City Council regarding additional funding here: https://fb.watch/pLYy_PBvgj
Northbridge is across the street from a hotel, real estate activity has slowed to a crawl, and unofficial homeless encampments, garbage deposits, and drug paraphrenalia can be found all around this converted hotel near St. John's and IH-35 in North Austin. Is this a picture of Pecan Park's future if Candlewood is allowed to open? MOVE Candlewood investigated just a week before the shelter made national headlines for being unsafe for residents and workers: https://www.movecandlewood.com/post/homelessness-inc-s-terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-week-in-austin. (Embarrassing fact: The city attempted to save face with what a sympathetic local reporter called a "viral TikTok." MOVE Candlewood discovered the video had less than 400 views! No, seriously.)
NOTIFICATION BILL, ORDINANCE STALLS
The City of Austin killed an ordinance to require fair notice of construction projects to nearby residents. Meanwhile, the Texas House stalled on a bill to require notifcations of planned homeless shelters in cities like Austin after a Senate committee passed a similar measure (SB 1214) unanimously. We maintain hope that a legislative solution can be reached in 2025. Stay tuned. https://www.kxan.com/news/texas-politics/bill-filed-again-to-set-new-rules-for-how-texas-cities-notify-of-homeless-housing
MEANWHILE OVER AT THE BUNGALOWS
Candlewood's twin sister, the Texas Bungalows, received plenty of media attention from grafitti, which brought to public memory that Austin used money from slashing funding for law enforcement to buy up these hotels and turn them into crime-magnets. https://www.movecandlewood.com/post/police-cuts-and-the-psh-push-the-near-forgotten-story-of-candlewood-and-the-texas-bungalows
... Earlier in the year, KXAN's Grace Reader took a hard-hitting look at where Austin's homelessness funds were going. We were grateful for her coverage: https://www.kxan.com/investigations/austinites-voted-for-more-affordable-housing-where-did-your-money-go
Does this mean we're done fighting for our Pecan Park neighbors and the rest of Austin? Certainly not!
While Williamson County's lawsuit was dismissed, the Chaudhari Partnership's lawsuit was separated and continues to make its way through the appeals process. We'll keep you updated on the progress.
ABANDONED SHOPPING CART CAPITAL OF TEXAS
How many abandoned shopping carts do you see on your drive home? We collected a few and dumped them off at City Hall to make our point clear. (Don't worry: we picked them up!) Thanks for our friends with Documenting ATX (DASH) for their support:
FOX AND FRIENDS
The national media was kind to our united cause this year, including a mention of our struggle on Fox & Friends, plus MOVE Candlewood founder Rupal Chaudhari appeared on "The Faulkner Focus" to discuss rising crime statistics in the Austin area and the 800 police officers who have left in recent years. Watch: https://www.facebook.com/MoveCandlewood/posts/pfbid02BsesYycRK6URLUZHXzZ57ZhskgTC33g7N69j9uJxhQUV8DBSKDe1Nn9WPxCYadabl
... This is in addition to numerous media appearances and interviews in Austin-area print, radio, online, and TV media. Our special thanks goes out to KLBJ-AM, who are always happy to share the mic for a few minutes.
Our Pecan Creek/Lakeline neighbors are still opposed to converting the former Candlewood into PSH housing! We were given a stark reminder as to why on Oct. 19 when a structure fire broke out in close proximity, likely from a homeless camper: https://www.movecandlewood.com/post/austin-fire-pecan-park-area-shed-fire-intentionally-set
MORE IN '24
Safe to say, you'll be seeing us more during YEAR FOUR of this fight! Take action at MOVECandlewood.com!
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Contact the Mayor and Council! Tell them we still don't want Candlewood to become PSH housing. Let's find a better location and a better plan. https://www.austintexas.gov/email/all-council-members