For Immediate Release:
May 1, 2021
Elizabeth Christian Public Relations
Walter Zaykowski – 202.503.5108
Danielle Kaigler – 617.840.1689
AUSTIN, Texas—Today, voters in Austin approved Proposition B, reinstating what is known as the “public camping ban.” Following the results, Laura Huffman, president and CEO of the Austin Chamber of Commerce, released the following statement:
“Voters have sent a resounding message that the status quo in Austin isn’t working, and our community and elected leaders need to listen. However, today’s election results do not change the fact that our work is just beginning. Regardless of the laws and ordinances enacted locally or at the state level, we need to ensure those experiencing unsheltered homelessness have safer, more stable options for shelter available to them. Our community and elected leaders need to find solutions to this humanitarian challenge.
“The Chamber is deeply committed to addressing homelessness—an issue on which there is near unanimous agreement that our current path is unsustainable. We have done this through the launch of ATX Helps in 2019, our participation in the Summit to Address Unsheltered Homelessness in Austin—which brought together diverse voices with differing viewpoints from across the political spectrum to tackle this challenge for the betterment of our community—and engagement in related public policy issues.
“Our city can and must do better to help those living unsheltered in our community. This will better ensure their health and safety along with the public health and safety of all who live in or visit Austin. The Chamber’s unique business community perspective has been an asset in helping the Summit understand where resources are adequate, where they can be better allocated and where they are nonexistent. This should lead to a more targeted approach that produces measurable and visible results for those experiencing homelessness and the community. Regardless of election results, the people of Austin should feel hopeful that there is a plan underway to ensure our neighbors have dignified and safe housing, while also allowing public areas currently used for camping to be restored to shared community spaces.
“Only through dedicating ourselves, our time and our financial resources both from the private and public sectors, will we achieve our goal of helping our neighbors who desperately need our help. Failure is not an option. There is too much at stake for our community and there are too many lives dependent upon our action.”
The Summit to Address Unsheltered Homelessness in Austin brought together a diverse coalition of community advocates and leaders, service providers, business groups, philanthropists and City leaders. Since December 2019, the coalition, which includes the Austin Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Austin Alliance, Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO), Austin Justice Coalition, Homes Not Handcuffs, Notley’s HomeFront Fund, Mayor Adler and others, has been building an implementation strategy. Integral to the strategic plan is a system-wide and equitable approach to rehousing which includes investment in the infrastructure to support the prescribed interventions.
The Summit has a shared goal to rehouse 3,000 people experiencing homelessness in three years with the following benchmarks:
- 100 people by June 2021
- 200 people by August 2021
- 400 people by December 2021
- 1,200 people by October 2022
- 3,000 people by April 2024.
The Austin Chamber, in coordination with the Summit to Address Unsheltered Homelessness participants, is currently working towards the established goals. Efforts underway include:
- Activating increased shelter and housing capacities.
- Identifying the resources needed for the immediate deployment of shelter and housing resources.
- Identifying the necessary social services people need in order to resolve homelessness for an individual.
About the Austin Chamber
The Austin Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit membership organization that helps people live, work and thrive in Austin. The Chamber invests in a broad range of programs that build, support and diversify the Austin region’s community. Its vision is for Austin to have the country’s most prosperous business community. To learn more, visit austinchamber.com.