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Austin Mayor Steve Adler along with San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, and Consultant Matthew Doherty come together to discuss homelessness at SXSW 2021. The past year has presented more issues for officials trying to tackle homelessness, especially in Austin.
Panel Synopsis: On any given night, over half a million people are sleeping on the streets of America. Homelessness continues to be a persistent and perplexing challenge facing our communities and leaders. In the wake of the current economic crisis lies a looming housing catastrophe as the potential for millions of people to be kicked out of their homes if they are unable to pay past due rent. Hear from mayors and national leaders on the challenges facing the effort to end homelessness and what emerging solutions and initiatives are making progress to ensuring no has to sleep on the streets.
Two years ago Austin changed its ordinances, no longer criminalizing homelessness. Right on the cusp of that, the pandemic hit. Even the cancelation of SXSW last year caused a big economic fallout and it has only gotten worse, especially with homelessness in Austin. At the start of the pandemic they immediately pulled motels and other housing options to help isolate Covid-19 outbreaks amongst the homeless community. It was clear that congregative sheltering was not an option during the pandemic.
Matthew Doherty says that since Covid-19 hit having a “home” has become more important than ever. It’s put things into prospective for all of us. Having a home base is vital to being safe, stable, and successful. He truly believes that with the right plan and resources homelessness is a solvable issue.
Doherty is the former chief of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and will be joining Mayor Adler in the upcoming weeks to launch a community summit. Together they hope to come up with a real in-depth plan to tackle the homelessness issues in Austin. At the end of the day Mayor Adler said he is proud to live in a city that accepts and addresses the homeless issue – An issue that is not going to simply disappear when the pandemic ends. We have to strive to better our cities and our communities. Here’s hoping Mayor Adler can do just that.