The Austin Chronicle

Downtown Puzzle: ARCH Support

Can the mayor’s plan generate millions for homeless services and permanent housing?

By Sarah Marloff, September 22, 2017, News

Adler's plan was hatched in part to help create housing options for the Downtown area's homeless population – which his office tallied at around 650 people in July (470 get beds inside the Austin Resource Center for the Homelessness and Salvation Army, with another 180 spilling out nightly onto the street). Introducing another 1-2% bed tax at city hotels would create a tourism public improve­ment district, which could generate $4 million annually until 2021 (at which point that figure should double) – money that would go to homeless services like medical assistance and addiction treatment.

But the bigger long-range benefit would come from creating a new Downtown tax increment financing district, which could generate $30 million for permanent supportive housing. Ann Howard, who runs the Ending Com­mun­ity Homelessness Coalition, told the Chronicle that housing for homeless individuals – small, one-bedroom apartments – typically costs $100,000 per door to purchase. Ancillary costs associated with those purchases suggest that $30 million could help provide housing for 200-224 people, spread throughout the city.

This story has been updated to provide accurate information on the amount of people who sleep on beds in shelters. It previously indicated that 470 people sleep on beds inside the ARCH. In fact, there are a total of 470 beds at both the ARCH and Salvation Army.

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