Frequently Asked Questions

As of May 2023, Austin ECHO estimates 4,652 individuals are unsheltered on any given night, and 803 people spend the night in shelters. Our community presently has fewer than 1,000 shelter beds to serve unhoused residents. Public camping is a consequence of insufficient affordable housing stock, shelter scarcity, and unmet social service needs. The City of Austin and its partners are working to make new housing and shelter resources available to more of our unhoused community members. This surge in housing and shelter resources will help more of our neighbors and reduce the prevalence of public camping.

The City of Austin and a variety of public and private partners have established ambitious goals to expand Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) and Rapid Rehousing (RRH). Together our community intends to house 3,000 additional people above our baseline by the end of 2024.

The Marshalling Yard is a new City-owned facility constructed in 2022, to serve as a logistics and support depot for the Austin Convention Center. The Marshalling Yard is purpose-built to enable trucks to park, unload, store, and load materials, supplies, and equipment. The yard will help to relieve traffic and cargo congestion during large events.

The Marshalling Yard meets a variety of criteria that are conducive to temporary use as an emergency shelter facility while the City enhances shelter and housing capacity elsewhere:

 

  • Sufficient space to efficiently serve many people.
  • Modern fire suppression, heating, cooling systems.
  • Utility connection points to support deployment of mobile hygiene units.
  • Fencing and security systems that support access control.
  • Pedestrian traffic to and from the Marshalling Yard does not intersect with any single-family residences.
  • The Riverside corridor and bus lines are located within a half mile of the facility.
  • Does not require repurposing other public facilities like recreation centers where youth and family programming is offered.

The Marshalling Yard temporary shelter site will be managed by a third-party nonprofit operator in close collaboration with Austin Public Health.  The contract with the service provider may begin as early as August 1, 2023. The exact timeline for starting and ending temporary shelter operations will be negotiated with the nonprofit operator.

The City of Austin funds or operates a variety of shelters throughout the city:

 

  • The Downtown ARCH (District 9)
  • Northbridge Shelter in the St. Johns/Georgian Acres neighborhood (District 4)
  • Esperanza Community in the Montopolis neighborhood (District 3)
  • Casa Marianella in the Govalle neighborhood (District 3)
  • Southbridge Shelter in the East Riverside/Oltorf neighborhood (District 3)
  • Lifeworks Youth Shelter in the Galindo neighborhood (District 3)
  • A New Entry in the Springdale neighborhood (District 1)
  • Two Salvation Army shelters in the Springdale neighborhood (District 1)

This list does not include family violence/domestic violence shelters.

Emergency shelters presently operate in four Council districts. Shelters are usually located near corridors served by public transportation. The Marshalling Yard is intended to support our community on a temporary basis while new shelter and housing is developed elsewhere. Future shelter siting will take a variety of factors into consideration such as access to transportation and services, as well as geographic distribution.

Yes, the warehouse building used for shelter services will be staffed around-the-clock. Potential operators have been asked to propose a plan for safety and security.

The Marshalling Yard is a 41-acre depot that includes a warehouse and expansive parking lot. The warehouse, which will be used for most shelter operations, has access control and fencing. The yard’s south gate and security shack are approximately 300 feet from the nearest residential fence lines, and the warehouse entrance is over 500 feet away. A wildflower field rests between the facility and single-family homes.

 A paved sidewalk connects Airport Commerce Drive to the Riverside corridor. This path to East Riverside Drive does not intersect with single-family residences or the nearby Riverside Meadows subdivision.

Gaining access to the Marshalling Yard temporary shelter will be by referral only. People will not be able to walk up and expect to receive a shelter bed.  The City will manage the referral and intake process in collaboration with the operator of the shelter.

Austin Public Health has solicited proposals and anticipates some combination of the following services will be made available to shelter guests:

 

  • Housing services such as navigation, case management, or rent assistance
  • Healthcare referrals
  • Benefits enrollment
  • Program enrollment
  • Vital documents such as State-issued identification card and birth certificate
  • Employment and job skills referrals
  • Coordinated Assessment – a housing assessment process managed by Austin ECHO, used to determine prioritization for limited housing resources

The City of Austin is seeking a nonprofit operator of the shelter that has at least two years of experience.

The City of Austin seeks an operator that will ensure staff receive training in trauma-informed care, mental health first aid, de-escalation, motivational interviewing, and other communication techniques that will support a safe and stable environment for all shelter personnel and guests.

Length of stay will depend on each guest’s individual circumstances. Some guests may stay briefly, and others may need more time to engage in housing-focused services. The City’s objective is to facilitate a safe and stable environment that improves health, safety, and housing outcomes.

The City has solicited for low-barrier shelter that easily accessed by people experiencing homelessness. As long as a guests' conduct is conducive to safety they will be allowed to remain in shelter. Shelter guests with healthcare needs - such as substance recovery services - will receive appropriate referrals.

Yes, the temporary shelter facility will allow service animals, support animals, and pets. Shelter guests will be expected to protect the wellbeing of others, maintain the health and condition of their service animal or pet, and keep a clean and sanitary environment.

The City has asked potential operators to provide shuttle service to facilitate shelter guest movement to and from the facility. Shuttle service is sought to reduce pedestrian through-traffic and make accessing public transit, resources, and appointments easier.

The nearest CapMetro bus stop is served by routes #20 and #271. Route #20 is high frequency (every 15 minutes during peak hours) and can transport a passenger from the stop nearest the Marshalling Yard to Downtown in about 15 minutes. These routes connect with the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Ruiz Library, Austin Community College, University of Texas, the Eastern Crescent, and Del Valle.

The nearest sidewalk from the Marshalling Yard runs along Airport Commerce Drive, and intersects with East Riverside Drive. This route from the Marshalling Yard does not pass through the Riverside Meadows single family subdivision.

The City has asked potential operators to propose shuttle service to facilitate shelter guest transit and reduce pedestrian traffic in the area.

Yes, the multi-department Homeless Encampment Management (HEM) Team evaluates encampments, prioritizes, plans intervention, and manages logistics of the City of Austin’s encampment response activities. A preliminary survey of encampments near the Marshalling Yard was conducted in May 2023. The HEM Team is exploring which resources and actions – including shelter and up to enforcement – will be needed to reduce public camping in the area.

The vast majority of unhoused residents want help. Through the HEAL Initiative the City has found that about eight out of every ten (80%) of unsheltered residents will accept an offer of non-congregate bridge shelter. Bridge shelters are equipped with robust resources and afford a degree of privacy, dignity, and support that most shelter guests appreciate.

Public camping is a usually a consequence of inadequate housing, shelter, and social services. While the City and its partners are working to fund and develop a variety of new housing resources, effort is underway to expand shelter capacity to offer relief to more residents who are experiencing homelessness.

As of June 7, the City of Austin has hosted three informational sessions to coincide with the announcement of the Marshalling Yard temporary shelter project. These meetings were held on the evenings of May 17 and 18, and the morning of Saturday, May 20. Questions were logged during these meetings and used to develop this Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) resource.

Additional opportunities will be scheduled through June and July. The temporary shelter will not be opening for several months, so there will be adequate time to learn more about the project and ask questions that may not have already been answered.

The City of Austin’s Interim City Manager notified the Austin City Council on May 12, and published a memorandum about the temporary shelter project on May 15. 

City leaders have long called for more emergency shelter to provide homeless residents with safe spaces to sleep and access housing services.

In 2021, Austin voters approved reinstatement of the public camping ban. As the City works diligently to address public camping, efforts to offer safe shelter have accelerated.

Since Proposition B was passed by voters, the City of Austin has opened two new bridge shelters. The Southbridge shelter in District 3 and Northbridge shelter in District 4, will double their combined maximum occupancy in the spring of 2023, to serve up to 250 guests simultaneously. Both of these bridge shelters support the HEAL Initiative and the City of Austin's efforts to create more direct pathways to housing for residents currently living in our communiyt's most unsafe encampments.

The City of Austin is engaging stakeholders from the surrounding neighborhoods to share information about the temporary shelter facility and respond to questions.

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Project Images

 

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Nonprofit Operator Solicitation Opens

May 12, 2023

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Austin Public Health Announces Informational Meetings

Austin Public Health issued a Press Release on May 12, 2023 inviting interested members of the public to attend and learn more about our community's effort to expand emergency shelter capacity.

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Interim City Manager Publicly Announces Emergency Shelter Capacity Expansion

On May 15, the Interim City Manager published a memorandum annoucing efforts to expand shelter capacity in our community beginning with doubling occupancy at two City-owned bridge shelters and opening temporary shelter operations at the City-owned Marshalling Yard.

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First Round of Public Informational Meetings

May 17, 18, 20

Click Here for Slide Deck

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Operator Solicitation Closes

June 1, 2023

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Nonprofit Operator to be Considered by the Austin City Council

The Austin Cicy Council approved negotiation and executation of a contract for operation of the Marshalling Yard temporary shelter on July 20, 2023.

Agenda item and backup documentation are available here.

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Temporary Shelter Operations Begin

The Marshalling Yard opened its doors to unhoused residents on August 22, 2023.

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Milestone: 200 Individuals Sheltered

On September 14, the Marshalling Yard reached a census of 200 individuals. Per Austin City Council direction, the census will be temporarily capped at 200 sheltered individuals pending an operations status report to City of Austin leadership.

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Milestone: Marshalling Yard to Surge to 300 Bed Maximum Capacity

Following an operations status update required by the Austin City Council, staff and the shelter operator, Endeavors, will prepare to open an additional 100 beds to achieve a maximum capacity of 300 individuals sheltered.

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Demobilization of Temporary Shelter

Anticipated Fall 2024.