Home » Before passing baton, Kitchen reflects on eight years in the housing trenches

Before passing baton, Kitchen reflects on eight years in the housing trenches

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Photo by City of Austin

Tuesday, December 27, 2022 Calibramble

During her eight years on Austin City Council, Ann Kitchen has lived through both thrills and growing pains. Second fastest growing city in the country. The kitchen has worked out policies for 2022 Ryan Alter.

Part of that legacy is the housing-focused Encampment Assistance Link Initiative (HEAL program), born after the camping ban was reinstated instead of criminalizing the homeless. Since its launch in 2021, the program has provided access to housing for 409 of her people, providing temporary shelter at two of his renovated hotels and helping them transition to something more permanent. doing.

“I think HEAL is a successful one of our responses to the (housing) crisis, but it needs to scale,” says Kitchen. “Right now we have funding to help 200 people a year, but I don’t think that’s enough. “

When it comes to sticking it out, Kitchen admits there are still details to be worked out: 48% of those who attended HEAL previously dropped out. Securing permanent housing, she hopes that percentage will improve as the program reduces waiting times at Bridge Shelter, which currently average four to five months.Of course, this includes the newly renovated Goodrich Placejust this year, 120 units of very affordable sliding-scale public housing came online.

“The biggest problem is the process of building affordable units, which is going more slowly than we thought,” she says. By passing affordable home loan, excited that more money will be spent towards that endeavour. “

Elsewhere in the residential sector, Kitchen is part of Project Connect set aside to resist further gentrification along the planned Light Rail and MetroRapid Corridors in North Lamar, South Congress, Riverside and Pleasant Valley. Optimistic about the $300 million anti-movement budget. Staff are currently working to fund a variety of neighborhood-specific needs, including rental assistance, home repairs, small business assistance, and affordable housing projects.an approach called Equitable transport-oriented developmentor the ETOD will be back for discussion in February when the new council will consider changes to the planning process and zoning.

Following conversations fueled by the pandemic and the 2020 George Floyd protests, Kitchen is also rethinking the city’s approach to the mental health crisis. The result is the Austin Cares program. The program places a mental health professional alongside his 911 response team to provide assistance. Escalation prevention This can occur in armed law enforcement responses.

Kitchen is also excited about the launch of Austin’s Economic Development Corporation.It was devised to utilize funds to support creative spaces both old and new. first two projects, the Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex, and the 7,000-square-foot space in the city’s Permit and Development Center secured the green light from Congress this month.Also discussed are efforts to preserve the art scene holdouts broken spokereaders can expect to continue after the holidays.

But mostly, Kitchen hopes the next council will carry the torch on housing.

“I don’t believe in trickle-down housing. I often miss in conversations that there are different solutions for different income levels. People need more affordable housing.”

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