6/7 Special Called Meeting

Only City Council members and authorized staff are allowed to post on this message board.
Steve Adler
Posts: 406
Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2015 2:12 pm

6/7 Special Called Meeting

Post by Steve Adler »

As discussed during our meetings last week, there will be a special called meeting tomorrow (Monday, June 7th) to discuss homelessness, including encampments and American Rescue Plan Act funding. Please note that the start time of this meeting has changed to 2pm and we can expect that this meeting may go until 6pm.

Based on the input of City staff and discussion by Council at prior public meetings, as well as more in-depth conversations with a few colleagues, here is a proposed framework that I think may reflect shared priorities for consideration and discussion at tomorrow’s meeting:
http://assets.austintexas.gov/austincou ... 223637.pdf

Ann Kitchen
Posts: 236
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 4:04 pm

Re: 6/7 Special Called Meeting

Post by Ann Kitchen »


Thank you for laying out a framework for our discussion of the ARPA funds. I can support this framework as written. If there is interest in moving some of the line items, I will be less supportive, as I believe this approach addresses all the concerns that our colleagues have raised at appropriate levels.

As I have said in the past - I think it is time for the community to come together to address homelessness in a systemic way that:
- Accelerates housing + services response,
- Increases efficiencies by emphasizing coordinated efforts,
- Fills in workforce and housing infrastructure gaps that are causing system breakdowns,
- Instill accountability for results. And regularly track progress, and
- Puts us on the path of a rehousing vision that achieves functional zero for homelessness.

I think there is a path for the community to join us in this effort. I believe that path begins with the city stating our commitment, contingent on participation by the county and community philanthropy.

I appreciate the leadership that you, CM Tovo, and our colleagues have shown in recent years to address this challenge. I believe that Austin has the capability to achieve functional zero - we have done that with veterans and with youth.

Austin deserves no less.

Ann Kitchen
City Council D5
Ann Kitchen
Council Member District 5
Mackenzie Kelly
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2021 2:56 pm

Re: 6/7 Special Called Meeting

Post by Mackenzie Kelly »


We have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to date to address homelessness. I think the mission itself is tremendously worthwhile, but I'm concerned about what we really have to show for it. I would have greater confidence in this proposed spending framework if we had an external efficiency audit of the past five years' worth of expenditures and programming including those of our non-profit partners to understand whether we are using taxpayer dollars, which we have an obligation to be good stewards of, to achieve the best possible outcome in the most streamlined way possible. My analysis is that by taking this step we would also install greater confidence in our community and regional stakeholders.

Warm Regards,

Council Member, District 6
Leslie Pool
Posts: 193
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2015 3:22 pm

Re: 6/7 Special Called Meeting

Post by Leslie Pool »

Mayor, thank you for the additional information. However, in light of the large sums the City of Austin already, justifiably, spent in the last five fiscal years to address the challenges homelessness in our community present, I continue to be concerned that ...
> we are not approaching these decisions as carefully as we should,
> we are making these decisions too quickly, and as a consequence
> we are missing worthwhile consideration of ARPA spending in the context of the FY22 budget.

I urge that we slow the ARPA decision-making so that we can assess needs in tandem with our Budget deliberations that begin publicly in just a few weeks. Doing so will also give our residents the chance to comment on decisions that will have far-reaching impacts on all of us.

As an example, if we approve your proposal, then we would siphon $28.4 million from reserves. This is concerning because the Manager's draft FY22 budget will not be presented to us before July 9, so we don't yet know what that looks like, and I don't know how we return that sum to the reserves. It may be that what you propose will be okay, but I don't know how to determine that - I don't know what you're relying on to reach that $28.4 million figure - and that means that few in our community know either.

Additionally, your proposal to take $28.4 million from reserves in a surprise to us. As it happens, I was hoping to deposit some amount INTO reserves for FY22, not take funds out. In my personal deliberations about next year's budget, I coupled our current fiscal picture with what the forecast shows us about the impacts of the 3.5% tax cap in future years. My thoughts don't come anywhere near to withdrawing such a sizable sum from reserves, to spend this fiscal year or in FY22. I will want to hear what plan you have to refund the withdrawal. I understand the monies must be redeposited within a specific timeframe. I look forward to hearing that plan.

I urge that ...
> we continue to discuss and consider our options with ARPA with care and deliberation,
> our decisions be informed by the FY22 budget,
> we scope our spending decisions such that we preserve our reserves, not deplete them, and
> we ensure that our tax rate for FY22 is in the 4% to 5% range that some colleagues have already mentioned as their limit.

Leslie Pool
Council Member, District 7
Kathie Tovo
Posts: 111
Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2014 11:18 am

Re: 6/7 Special Called Meeting

Post by Kathie Tovo »

Dear Colleagues,

I look forward to today’s discussion. A few quick thoughts:

I share the commitment to investing a significant portion of the American Rescue Plan Act funding in housing and services related to ending homelessness (ie. achieving “functional zero”); it is also critically important to me that we also see significant investments toward this effort from public partners, foundations, private individuals and companies, and others. This is an important opportunity to make greater strides as a community – and I am eager to engage the community more fully in this effort.

I am very appreciative of the hard work that the Dianna Grey, the consultant, and several other participants in the Homelessness Community Summit have put toward developing a model and estimating the financial costs of achieving functional zero. At this point, that detailed information has not been shared with the full Council or the public; I will be bringing forward direction which outlines a process for the City Manager to review this information and to provide the City Council and public later this summer with (at a minimum) more details around the following:

• New or expanded investments proposed within the general categories of Crisis Services, Core Housing Programs, Other Services, System Capacity Building, and Capital Investment
• expected numbers of individuals served within each subcategory
• consideration of other possible sources of more restrictive funding (such as the Waller Creek TIRZ)
• comparison to existing city financial investments

I will also be bringing forward direction, possibly in coordination with a colleague or two, to capture our expectations that non-city entities will contribute significantly to this plan alongside any city investment.

As multiple factors are still uncertain – including what programs across all of the areas identified in the ARPA framework might be funded (or not) in the FY22 budget -- I will also be crafting direction to signify an intent to review and revise or affirm the spending framework:

• in response to external funding commitments
• as budgetary and other funding processes might demand
• prior to receiving the ARPA allocation for Year 2

With regard to other elements of the proposed ARPA framework, I intend to support increased investment in childcare, and I look forward to discussing increased investments in our resilience hubs and food. While the staff included funding for historic preservation, I see the proposal from the Mayor does not. Given the potential disposition of two historically significant structures with the community, I would like to explore if we can come to Council consensus about alternative funding that could be used for historic preservation acquisition if the Council decides against designating ARPA funds for this purpose.

Kathie Tovo
Council District 9
Greg Casar
Posts: 171
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:20 pm

Re: 6/7 Special Called Meeting

Post by Greg Casar »


Thanks for your post. After hard work done on this by our staff and our Council—with staff proposals and discussions in March, April, May, and last week—I support approval of this latest version you’ve posted.

I believe that a $100M commitment to addressing homelessness is critical, and that we can drastically reduce homelessness in Austin.

The staff’s initial March recommendation included $20M for individual assistance (RISE/RENT). We prioritized addressing housing insecurity as a key area in the Resilient ATX resolution. I believe at least maintaining, if not increasing, the $20M commitment is important for us to move forward.

I also support the commitments you’ve listed here toward workforce development, childcare, Colony Park, food access, and music/arts.

The staff’s memo in March and then the most recent memo from last week show that we can utilize a small portion of our reserves to accomplish these shared goals, while still keeping a healthy amount of reserves per our policy. I believe this is the right approach.

Gregorio "Greg" Casar
Council Member District 4
Vanessa Fuentes
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2021 9:02 am

Re: 6/7 Special Called Meeting

Post by Vanessa Fuentes »

Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem, and colleagues:

In advance of our discussion this afternoon, I wanted to convey my support for the Mayor’s proposal which would ensure our City’s strategy to address homelessness has resources necessary for success. This significant investment will allow us to execute on the plans developed by City staff that will bring us closer to the ultimate goal of permanent supportive housing for our neighbors experiencing homelessness.

I am happy to see that there has been an increase in City staff’s spending recommendation for early childcare priorities. I will continue to advocate for $1.5 million to expand access to dual-language full-day Pre-K for 4-year-old students in Del Valle and hope to have your continued support that has been evident in our discussions on the dais in recent weeks. It is of the utmost importance to ensure our littlest Austinites have a strong start to their education.

In addition, I will continue to advocate for the resources necessary to plan for and build a resilient and equitable food system. We must learn from the hardships endured during the COVID-19 pandemic and Winter Storm Uri to ensure the systemic food access inequities plaguing our communities are not further exacerbated during future emergencies. I am calling on ARPA funds to be used to support and fund an Austin/Travis County Food System Plan, support the development of a non-profit and cooperatively owned grocery store, address the ongoing effects of the pandemic and winter storm, and to create an Emergency Food Recovery Plan to be used during future emergencies to ensure Austinites do not go hungry while food is being thrown out.

Furthermore, I’m supportive of the Mayor’s proposal to increase the allocation of funds dedicated to our creative arts communities and enthusiastically call for the expedited allocation of these funds.

Finally, I too support the commitments toward housing insecurity, workforce development and Colony Park.

Yours in community,
Council Member, District 2
Post Reply