The Austin Chronicle

Community Court Finds New Home at Terrazas Library

Temporary move allows greater number of people experiencing homelessness to access walk-in services per day

By Angela Bonilla, August 28, 2020, News

Last week the Downtown Austin Community Court temporarily moved its triage case management services from its location on East Sixth Street to Austin Public Library's Terrazas Library at 1105 E. Cesar Chavez.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the DACC has continued to provide walk-in services to those experiencing homelessness, including COVID-19 resources, safety planning, and connections to essential services. The number of people served by DACC's case managers has increased significantly – going from an average of 22 per day in March, at the onset of COVID-19, to 37 per day in July, according to a city press release.

Due to social distancing guidelines, only two people could be served at a time at the court's Downtown location. "We were starting to have a lot of people waiting outside for an extended period because we couldn't move fast enough to get them processed and assist them with what they needed," DACC Director Peter Valdez told the Chronicle. Clients grew frustrated with the longer wait times, said Valdez, which led him to reach out to the city's real estate office.

The solution? Terrazas, currently closed to the public during the pandemic. The temporary move will allow for more people to wait inside for services, as well as space for more on-site staff. APL Director Roosevelt Weeks told us, "The goal is to have them there until we start providing services for the public later in the future."

The DACC is looking for a new building to operate in since the department has outgrown its current one, said Valdez. In the meantime, he says the library is helping fulfill the city's strategies to end homelessness – a mission that depends on mitigating the impacts of COVID-19.

"It's really important for us to provide our services, especially during COVID-19, but we are not going to continue to provide services if the situation gets worse and the city manager decides that we need to send [our] people home."

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