RELEASE: Austin homeless camp pushback was 'entirely preventable'
AUSTIN (July 28, 2021) – After swift and vigorous pushback against the city’s proposed encampment plans on Convict Hill Road and Mason Road by neighbors and their respective City Council members, Stop Candlewood calls for a broader community engagement, notification, and intake strategy.
Despite the two City-owned sites meeting the legal requirements for an encampment, the recent rollout of possible sites bears the characteristics of the permanent supportive housing (PSH) hotel announcements in January: Limited community notification and hardly any engagement.
The resultant confusion is why Council members Paige Ellis and Natasha Harper-Madison issued a joint statement yesterday opposing the encampments and called for a strategy that was “deliberate”, “transparent”, “equitable”, and “cost-effective”.
The following statement may be attributed to Stop Candlewood organizer Rupal Chaudhari:
“It is ironic and tragic that these neighborhoods and Council Members Ellis and Harper-Madison are in the exact spot we with Stop Candlewood were at nearly six months ago: blindsided and fighting a deeply flawed City notification and engagement process capable of serving both communities and the homeless while calling for transparent and cost-effective solutions.
We understand that addressing our homeless situation is challenging and that there are no silver bullets – especially when dealing with the most challenging homeless circumstances that include chronically homeless individuals with comorbidities. Watching other communities needlessly struggle with the same issues we experienced – including two Council members who made time to meet with us – leads us to call for a broader standard for notifying and engaging the homeowners and businesses who may be impacted by the City’s homeless strategy.
In the aftermath of the camping ban reinstatement, the Council and Mayor continue to pursue an ambitious plan to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to implement their “Homeless Summit” goals and expand PSH stock. They – and the many communities that make up the Greater Austin area – will undoubtedly run into this same issue again and again, where communities are blindsided by City decisions and forced into costly yet entirely preventable struggles for representation. We urge the City Council to immediately adopt standards and processes for selecting, notifying, and engaging impacted communities and businesses to avoid needlessly jeopardizing plans to serve our homeless neighbors, our communities, and Austin taxpayers.”
Stop Candlewood actively supports greater transparency in local government and better alternatives for helping Austin's homeless. Already hundreds of participants strong, Stop Candlewood invites neighbors to join the movement and learn more at www.StopCandlewood.com
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