RELEASE: Lawsuit amended to reflect 'unanimously vague' Council vote for homeless shelter use
AUSTIN (March 11, 2022) — Will the real Candlewood please stand?
Supporters of a better way to help Austin's unhoused population are again left in the dark by the city of Austin.
In February 2021, the Council announced plans to purchase and then convert the Candlewood Suites off Pecan Park Boulevard in Northwest Austin into general public supportive housing. News of the planned purchase — adjacent to businesses and in close proximity to private residences and school facilities — sparked numerous demonstrations, the founding of community advocacy organization MOVE Candlewood (formerly Stop Candlewood), stark opposition by Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell and other community leaders, and a lawsuit by hotel owners who share a parking lot with the Candlewood.
In August 2021, and as a surprise to everyone, the Council voted 6-4 to buy the embattled hotel for use as a women's shelter, perhaps as a means to soften the image of the controversial purchase.
On Feb. 26 (2022) the Council voted unanimously to contract with Family Eldercare for management of the former hotel, seemingly changing the focus of the facility into a shelter for the elderly.
"Which one is it?" asked Rupal Chaudhari, co-founder of MOVE Candlewood. "Again, the Council has reached a decision completely devoid of community input and with scant accountability. Austinites deserve better than the unanimously vague leadership shown by the Council, Mayor, and city staff.
"We have been suggesting better alternatives to the Candlewood purchase for over a year now, including a hotel property owned by the city that can house hundreds. These alternatives were met with shockingly little interest by the Council and city staff. We're left with no other conclusion than that the city has no substantive, concrete plan for housing the homeless."
The plaintiffs amended their lawsuit, originally filed in February 2021, to reflect the uncertainty over the intended purpose of purchasing the former hotel. The link to the amended petition may be read here.
The Candlewood purchase cost taxpayers $9.5 million to house approximately 50 people.
The mission of MOVE Candlewood is to Make Our Voices Equal in the Austin area. To learn more about the ongoing effort to restore trust at city hall and beyond visit www.MOVECandlewood.com.