CORRECTED MESSAGE BOARD POST ITEM 49 HEAL INITIATIVE FACT SHEET AND QUESTIONS/ANSWERS

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Ann Kitchen
Posts: 217
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 4:04 pm

CORRECTED MESSAGE BOARD POST ITEM 49 HEAL INITIATIVE FACT SHEET AND QUESTIONS/ANSWERS

Post by Ann Kitchen » Tue Feb 02, 2021 11:21 am

Colleagues

My colleagues and I are posting a FACT SHEET and QUESTIONS/ANSWERS to provide more information for your consideration. We also appreciate the co-sponsorship of CM Alter and are including her amendments posted on the Message Board. (CoSponsors: Kitchen, Alter, Kelly, Pool, Renteria, Tovo)

The Homeless Encampment Assistance Link (HEAL) initiative is a strategy to immediately connect people to housing or safe housing-focused shelter, create a path to permanent housing, and over time, eliminate the need for unsheltered camping in our city.

I want to emphasize that this resolution upholds the City’s commitment to the decriminalization of homelessness and recognizes that unsheltered camping is not a sustainable solution for those experiencing homelessness.

HEAL recognizes that some places pose health and safety risks and people are living unsheltered in unsafe situations. The resolution asks the City Manager to provide strategies and an implementation plan for disallow camping upon completion of the HEAL Initiative in these locations. The intent of the HEAL Initiative is to provide a path to connect people to housing and disallow camping in unsafe areas without relying on policing.

My cosponsors and I have appreciated the opportunity to talk with the community and will be posting amendments to clearly address shared intent with these groups. We appreciate their caring approach for our homeless neighbors

PRIMARY AMENDMENTS TO CLARITY INTENT (TO BE POSTED LATER TODAY)
• Incorporate CM Alter amendment to include areas where camping is currently not allowed such as parkland when identifying Phase II and III locations
• Specify consultation with the Austin Homelessness Advisory Council
• Clearly state the intent that Individuals will be connected to the services and housing options based on their expressed and individual needs.
• Clearly state that the intent of to offer a path for each individual to permanent housing with the supports necessary to maintain housing over time.
• Connect individuals and offer assessment through the Coordinated Entry System
• Return to Council on March 4th with strategies and an implementation plan for disallowing camping after completion of the HEAL Initiative, with strategies that DO NOT rely on policing or citations
• Return to Council on March 4th with documents to dedicate at least $3 million for Phase I of HEAL Initiative.
• Specify that funding will not be diverted from existing programs serving homeless individuals .
• Specify report on demographics of individuals served and consideration of equity in identifying locations

I want to emphasize that now is the time to act. This is not a new idea – and was first discussed in 2019. There is broad consensus to move quickly to provide housing and services to our unhoused neighbors.

The longer we wait, the longer people will rely on living situations that pose major health and safety
risks.

The resolution is a commitment to start developing the HEAL Initiative. This will take time – and the City Manager will return to Council with regular progress updates and with any actions necessary for dedicating funding and to address approaches for disallowing camping in these unsafe place without citations or policing.

I have pulled Item #49 for discussion at Work Session. Also, please reach out to the Homeless Services Officer, Dianna Grey, with questions. We have written this resolution in conjunction with her.

LINK TO FACT SHEET AND QUESTIONS/ANSWERS
http://assets.austintexas.gov/austincou ... 090211.pdf

Best Regards
Ann Kitchen
City Council D5

Council Members Ann Kitchen, MacKenzie Kelly, Leslie Pool, Sabino “Pio” Renteria, Kathie Tovo
February 4, 2021 Council Meeting – Agenda Item 49

HEAL Initiative - Fact Sheet
The Homeless Encampment Assistance Link (HEAL) initiative is a strategy to immediately connect
people to housing or safe housing-focused shelter, create a path to permanent housing, and over time,
eliminate the need for unsheltered camping in our city.

Our City upholds its commitment to the decriminalization of homelessness and recognizes that
unsheltered camping is not a sustainable solution for those experiencing homelessness.

HEAL is a collaborative effort between the Homeless Strategy Office, Austin Public Health, Housing and
Planning Department, Integral Care, Caritas, and community homelessness service providers, building on
their tremendous work experience and expertise.

The HEAL Initiative is a phased approach that builds over time to ensure more areas will be served. The
proposal is one key strategy within the larger effort to end homelessness in Austin.

THE HEAL INITIATIVE WILL CONNECT INDIVIDUALS TO HOUSING AND SERVICES.
Individuals living in the encampments will be connected to the services and housing options based on
their expressed and individual needs.
● Housing services, such as Rapid Rehousing, Permanent Supportive Housing, Housing-focused
Shelter.
○ Rapid Rehousing includes short term rental assistance and services.
○ Permanent Supportive Housing offers permanent housing plus services for individuals who need
more support.
● Case management support and health care services, such as medical, behavioral health and substance
use disorder services, to help keep people maintain their housing.

The initiative will add to existing services and will not divert resources from existing programs. The
initiative will address the need for safe and stable housing for individuals living in locations that pose
risks to public health and safety.

NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT QUICKLY:
● The City now has a permanent Homeless Strategy Officer to lead the initiative.
● There is broad consensus to move quickly to provide housing and services to our unhoused neighbors.
● The longer we wait, the longer people will rely on living situations that pose major health and safety
risks.
● To ensure success, we have dedicated at least $3 million for Phase I of the HEAL Initiative. The City
Manager is directed to report progress regularly and include any additional resources needed.
● Our community has built important partnerships through ongoing successful programs focused on
connecting veterans and youths experiencing homelessness to housing. The City also learned from the
“Guided Path” initiative around the ARCH, the importance of dedicating sufficient resources for
services and permanent housing.

HEAL Initiative - Questions and Answers
The Homeless Encampment Assistance Link (HEAL) initiative is a strategy to immediately connect
people to housing or housing-focused shelter, create a path to permanent housing, and over time,
eliminate the necessity for unsheltered camping in our city.

Our City upholds its commitment to the decriminalization of homelessness and recognizes that
unsheltered camping is not a sustainable solution for those experiencing homelessness.

Question: Who will implement the initiative?
Answer: HEAL is a collaborative effort among the Homeless Strategy Office, Austin Public Health, the
Housing and Planning Department, Real Estate, Integral Care, Caritas, and the homeless service and
provider community, building on their tremendous work experience and expertise.

Question: How will the HEAL Initiative work?
Answer: Individuals living in the encampments will be connected to the services and housing options
based on their expressed and individual needs:
·
● Rapid Rehousing, Permanent Supportive Housing, Diversion, Housing-focused Shelter.
● Case management support and health care services, such as medical, behavioral health and substance
use disorder services, to help keep people maintain their housing.

Question: How will the HEAL Initiative be implemented?
Answer: HEAL will use a phased approach. Phase I, a pilot phase, will include four locations selected
based on health and safety risk criteria. Future phases will include additional locations and will
incorporate information learned from Phase I.

Once staff and community partners have connected individuals in these areas to housing and services,
they will determine how to discontinue camping in unsafe locations. In this process, the City of Austin
will uphold its commitment to the decriminalization of homelessness.

Question: Will the HEAL Initiative divert resources from current efforts?
Answer: No, the initiative will add resources to better address the health and safety hazard of people
living in dangerous areas. The proposal is a key strategy in the larger effort to end homelessness in
Austin.

Question. Is this simply moving people around? What about CDC guidelines against scattering people living in encampments?
Answer: No, people will only be moving with services to housing or to shelter that leads to housing.
HEAL will not be scattering people or moving them from one unsheltered space to another. Rather,
people will be moving into safer, healthier spaces where they will have better access to health care and
vaccines when available.

Question: Why is this initiative being proposed now?
Answer: Now is the time to act quickly and strategically:
● The City now has a permanent Homeless Strategy Officer to lead the initiative.
● There is broad consensus to move quickly to provide housing and services to our unhoused neighbors.
● The longer we wait, the longer people will rely on living situations that pose major health and safety
risks.

Question: How can we ensure the success of the HEAL Initiative?
Answer: Our community has built important partnerships through past successful programs focused on
connecting veterans and youths experiencing homelessness to housing.
● To ensure success, we have dedicated at least $3 million for Phase I of the HEAL Initiative. The City
Manager is directed to report progress regularly and include any additional resources needed.
● Our community has built important partnerships through ongoing successful programs focused on
connecting veterans and youths experiencing homelessness to housing. The City also learned from the
“Guided Path” initiative around the ARCH, the importance of dedicating sufficient resources for
services and permanent housing.

Question: How does the HEAL Initiative address camping in the future?
Answer: HEAL recognizes that some places pose health and safety risks and people are living
unsheltered in unsafe situations. The resolution asks the City Manager to provide strategies and an
implementation plan for ceasing camping upon completion of the HEAL Initiative, and if necessary, to
amend the camping ordinance. The intent of the HEAL Initiative is to provide a path to connect people to housing and cease camping in unsafe areas without relying on policing.

Contacts:
Ken Craig, Office of CM Kitchen, District 5 – ken.craig@austintexas.gov
Catherine Van Arnam, Office of CM Kelly, District 6 – catherine.vanarnam@austintexas.gov
Louisa Brinsmade, Office of CM Pool, District 7 – louisa.brinsmade@austintexas.gov
Nic Solorzano, Office of CM Renteria, District 3 – nicholas.solorzano@austintexas.gov
Nicole Golden, Office of CM Tovo, District 9 – nicole.golden@austintexas.gov
Ann Kitchen
Council Member District 5
Ann Kitchen
Council Member District 5

Louisa Brinsmade
Posts: 37
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2015 4:27 pm

Re: CORRECTED MESSAGE BOARD POST ITEM 49 HEAL INITIATIVE FACT SHEET AND QUESTIONS/ANSWERS

Post by Louisa Brinsmade » Tue Feb 02, 2021 12:03 pm

On behalf of CM Pool:

My thanks to CM Kitchen for this expanded explanation of the HEAL initiative to describe how this program will advance our work to address and end homelessness. I look forward to our discussions and to hearing from the community on Thursday; I am also grateful to our Homeless Strategy Officer, Dianna Grey, and her staff for working with us so closely to craft this meaningful work.

I look forward to insightful and productive discussions with you all.

Leslie
Policy Advisor
Office of Leslie Pool, Council Member District 7

Mackenzie Kelly
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2021 2:56 pm

Re: CORRECTED MESSAGE BOARD POST ITEM 49 HEAL INITIATIVE FACT SHEET AND QUESTIONS/ANSWERS

Post by Mackenzie Kelly » Tue Feb 02, 2021 12:59 pm

Colleagues,

Thank you to CM Kitchen for these informative, clarifying, and compassionate words about the HEAL initiative. Thank you to Dianna Grey and the host of City staffers who helped craft this outcome. I look forward to further conversations about HEAL when we meet on Thursday. This is an important piece of the puzzle and I are hopeful that swift passage of the item will promptly help individuals living in encampments to connect with housing choices and services that best match their wants and needs. This is good work, especially in Austin’s chilly winter, towards better health and safety for our homeless community.

Mackenzie Kelly
Councilmember, District 6
Council Member, District 6

Greg Casar
Posts: 158
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:20 pm

Re: CORRECTED MESSAGE BOARD POST ITEM 49 HEAL INITIATIVE FACT SHEET AND QUESTIONS/ANSWERS

Post by Greg Casar » Wed Feb 03, 2021 2:16 pm

Colleagues,

We have received calls from community members to postpone this item, so that we can engage with people who would be affected if policing is to be expanded beyond the current rules. I generally agree with that.

However, at work session and here on the message board, co-sponsors made clear that the intention is *not* to expand use of policing as part of this initiative. As I said at work session, if this resolution relies on housing rather than policing as the solution, then I would expect very little objection to the resolution.

I see and appreciate the updated language. However, I believe the resolution still requires more clarity if we are to reach the objectives stated above. For example, it is not clear why we would still need to amend the criminal camping rules, if, in fact, the resolution is not going to be expanding criminalization. I also believe we should be more clear that we are not diverting money from permanent supportive housing, and that our focus should be on helping people move from dangerous or currently illegal locations toward sustainable housing solutions. I will work with colleagues on suggested language changes and post them here.

-Greg
Gregorio "Greg" Casar
Council Member District 4

Greg Casar
Posts: 158
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:20 pm

Re: CORRECTED MESSAGE BOARD POST ITEM 49 HEAL INITIATIVE FACT SHEET AND QUESTIONS/ANSWERS

Post by Greg Casar » Thu Feb 04, 2021 9:04 am

Colleagues,

Here are my amendments to reflect the intentions stated at work session -- that this will not expand policing and criminalization as opposed to housing and services, this will not divert from our permanent housing efforts, and we are focused on health, safety, and reasonable access to public spaces.

http://assets.austintexas.gov/austincou ... 090257.pdf

-Greg
Gregorio "Greg" Casar
Council Member District 4

Steve Adler
Posts: 381
Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2015 2:12 pm

Re: CORRECTED MESSAGE BOARD POST ITEM 49 HEAL INITIATIVE FACT SHEET AND QUESTIONS/ANSWERS

Post by Steve Adler » Thu Feb 04, 2021 9:26 am

Council Member Kitchen and Co-Sponsors: Again, thank you for your leadership on the HEAL initiative which importantly addresses some encampments and street management issues. Acting in more immediate ways must happen along side the longer-term and more permanent work. I would like the Council to consider the following:

1) while still pointing to the four kinds of specified locations, ensuring the data is driving the process;
2) allowing the anticipated summit (ECHO/DAA/Chamber/City) to serve as the Collaboration if it successfully reaches a community consensus on how to move forward on encampments and street management;
3) making the Collaboration’s expertise the focus
4) developing a real time inventory of available housing and shelter resources

http://assets.austintexas.gov/austincou ... 092152.pdf

S
Mayor

Ann Kitchen
Posts: 217
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 4:04 pm

Re: CORRECTED MESSAGE BOARD POST ITEM 49 HEAL INITIATIVE FACT SHEET AND QUESTIONS/ANSWERS

Post by Ann Kitchen » Thu Feb 04, 2021 10:34 am

Mayor Adler

Thank you for your comments on Item 49. I believe your comments are already addressed in Version 3 of the Item 49:

1) Data is driving the process of identification of locations. In response to suggestions from the community, the cosponsors have added an amendment in Version 3 to clearly state the locations will be based on data.

2) The Summit would not be appropriate as the Collaboration, but the results can certainly inform the Collaborations' efforts. The Collaboration is an ongoing project team working with the Homeless Strategy Officer through all steps of the process to implement the HEAL Initiative - and will continue past the Summit and address operational details not within the scope of the Summit. The Collaboration process is described in the Resolution, includes homeless service providers, and Homeless Advisory Council.

3). The Homeless Strategy Officer and the Collaboration will implement the HEAL Initiative, bringing their expertise to the table

4). The Homeless Strategy Officer and the Collaboration will need to identify available housing and shelter resources in order to implement the HEAL Initiative

Best Regards
Ann Kitchen
City Council D5
Ann Kitchen
Council Member District 5

Steve Adler
Posts: 381
Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2015 2:12 pm

Re: CORRECTED MESSAGE BOARD POST ITEM 49 HEAL INITIATIVE FACT SHEET AND QUESTIONS/ANSWERS

Post by Steve Adler » Thu Feb 04, 2021 10:40 am

Here is a link to my edits in motion sheet format:
http://assets.austintexas.gov/austincou ... 103445.pdf
Mayor

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