Author Archives: mayoradler

Spirit of East Austin

Exploring the Spirit of East Austin

On September 12 we, your Mayor and City Manager, made a promise at the Spirit of East Austin Summit to work in partnership with each other, you, the community, and the City Council to co-create equitable, sustainable and transformative development in East Austin.  We proclaimed that because we are an interdependent community the future of all of Austin– not just East Austin — rises in the East, just like the sun. We aim to fundamentally change the conditions in the eastern portion of our region, where due to historic intentional policies and practices, as well as benign neglect, inequity had become status quo.

The September community meeting was called to kick off The Spirit of East Austin– this fresh approach to development in East Austin; an approach that will result not only in holistic communities east of IH35, but also in a better Austin.

Mindful of previous missteps, at that September meeting, we promised to listen with our hearts and our minds. We promised to learn from our collective stories and experiences. And – most importantly – we promised to take all of that and report back to you with a plan for thoughtful, meaningful and effective action. That’s what we’re doing  in this Op-Ed, but read closely because whether you were present on September 12 or nor, you have a vital role in this ongoing narrative and work too.

Learn more about the Spirit of East Austin.

Housing Heroes Austin

Housing Heroes press conference

Mayor Adler Commits to Goal

On Veterans Day 2015,  Mayor Steve Adler gave an update on his Housing Heroes Austin Initiative, declaring that Austin would complete the goal of functionally ending veteran homelessness by the original federal deadline of the end of the year.

Support our work to end veteran homelessness

ARE YOU A HOUSING HERO?

We owe our veterans more than a parade and our gratitude. This Veterans Day, I’m writing again to give you an update on the progress of our Housing Heroes project – and to ask for your help in giving some veterans much more than a “thank you.” I need your help to give homeless veterans a home.

We’ve got great news: Since May 1, our Housing Heroes program has found homes for 82 homeless veterans. That’s 82 success stories — with more moving in every week and dozens more leases about to close.

Unfortunately, we are still short of our goal to find homes for 200 homeless vets by today, Veterans Day, November 11. We will get there by the original federal deadline of the end of the year because we are getting better and more effectively and efficiently putting veterans into homes. Consider this:

1. We’re pulling in new partners to identifying affordable housing for veterans. Affordable housing is a well-known challenge in Austin, but thanks the Austin Apartment Association and the Austin Board of Realtors, our nonprofit partners like the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition have unprecedented access to property owners and managers, making the job of getting homeless veterans into apartments more doable. This is a new paradigm for dealing with homeless in Austin that will survive the Housing Heroes program.

2. We’ve surpassed our fundraising goal of $150,000 to help mitigate risks for landlords and property owners who rent to vets. As of today, we’ve raised $375,000 thank to the generosity of the business community and concerned people like you.

But there’s still more to do. We believe that one homeless vet in Austin is too many, so we’re not giving up just because we’ve missed our goal. In fact, we’re stepping up our efforts.

First, we have increased our goal to $500,000 raised by the end of the year. Knowing what we know now about the obstacles that still exist, we’re going to need even more resources to end veteran homelessness this year.

DONATE NOW to be a part of this ground-breaking initiative. Would you consider observing Veterans Day by donating $11.11 to Housing Heroes Austin?

Second, we are reinvigorating our ask of property owners and managers who are willing to partner with Housing Heroes to commit at least one unit to veteran families that might have barriers to renting.

CLICK HERE to help lift veterans off the streets by giving them a second chance.

We’re so close to achieving what we once thought would never be possible, but it takes ambitious goals and audacious plans to achieve big things. I accepted this challenge on your behalf, and now I’m asking for your help to meet it. There is no question that homeless veterans have earned our help or that it is now within our power to find them homes. The only question is if Austin has enough heroes left to finish the job.

MAYOR ADLER

 

 

Statesman Op-Ed: Time to help our veteran heroes

This article was also published by the Austin American-Statesman on Nov. 7, 2015

We owe a lot to our veterans, and honoring them is what the upcoming Veterans Day is all about. They have sacrificed and given so much of themselves for us, but what does it mean to truly honor our vets?

How about the simple but profound assistance of helping our homeless vets — our homeless heroes — find a home?

Five years ago, the Obama administration set what some thought was an unreachable goal for an intractable problem with an unrealistic deadline: ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. My predecessor, Mayor Lee Leffingwell, accepted this challenge for Austin, and I reaffirmed our community’s commitment. Though we’re not going to get there by Veterans Day this week, we are going to finish the job and find homes for these heroes.

One homeless vet is too many. Yet many are surprised to hear how few veteran men, women and their children are on our streets. We have only about 100.

On Jan. 1, 234 homeless veterans were counted in Austin. That’s the number that needs to get to zero by the end of this year to meet the challenge from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. When the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) asked me to accept the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homeless, 200 veterans still needed housing. I immediately signed on and set an even-more ambitious goal of accomplishing this by Veterans Day.

We used to think veteran homelessness was just a fact of life, less an unsolvable problem than a hopeless condition of modern-day America. But it’s not that way at all. We can, and are, solving this problem because we’ve learned some exciting things about what Austin is capable of.

The first thing we learned is that there’s a ton of support for ending veteran homelessness. When we started the Housing Heroes program, we began raising money to mitigate risks for apartment owners. Initially, we thought we needed $150,000. So far, we’ve raised $375,000 and have increased our goal to $500,000 by the end of the year. Turns out, the veterans aren’t the only heroes in this story.

It’s a good thing we raised more money, because another thing we learned is that we were going to need to buy down some of these rents to make them affordable to those homeless veterans who have jobs. Thanks to the unexpected generosity of so many, we were able to handle this unexpected challenge.

That brings us to the last group of heroes we discovered: property owners and managers. For the first time, ECHO is able to partner with the Austin Apartment Association and the Austin Board of Realtors. This gives ECHO unprecedented access to property owners and managers, making the job of getting homeless veterans into apartments more doable. This is a new paradigm for dealing with homeless in Austin that will survive the Housing Heroes program.

We’re not there yet. Since May 1, our Housing Heroes program has found homes for 82 homeless veterans. That’s 82 success stories — and more moving in every week and dozens more leases about to close — but we are still short the goal of ending veteran homelessness by the federal government’s original deadline. Thanks to the new cooperation between ECHO and property owners and the financial support of so many, we’re going to finish this job.

Here’s where you come in — because if Austin is going to end veteran homeless by the end of the year, then we’re going to need some more heroes. We need more contributions to the Housing Heroes Fund, and we’re still looking for apartment owners and managers to step up and provide apartments for these veterans. If you can help, go to housingheroesaustin.org.

This won’t be easy. Often, homeless veterans don’t have the spotless backgrounds that landlords prefer to see on rental applications, but clearly these heroes have earned second chances and fresh starts. To reach our goal, we’re going to need property owners and landlords to look past the perfect to see what is possible.

We’re so close to achieving what we once thought would never be possible, but it takes ambitious goals and audacious plans to achieve big things. I accepted this challenge on your behalf, and now I’m asking for your help to meet it. There is no question that homeless veterans have earned our help or that it is now within our power to find them homes. The only question is if Austin has enough heroes left to finish the job.

NEWS: Mayor Adler declares Local State of Disaster to help flood recovery

Today Mayor Steve Adler declared a Local State of Disaster which remains in effect for seven days until it is ratified and extended by the City Council. An item will appear on the agenda of the special called meeting of Sunday, November 8, 2015 for ratification and extension.

“Due to the extreme amount of rainfall and record flooding that struck the City of Austin on October 30, 2015, the City is facing tremendous physical and economic losses. Tragically, there has been loss of life. Hundreds of homes and businesses have been damaged, and many more residents and families are in need of temporary housing and other individual assistance,” Mayor Adler wrote in a memo to the City Council today. “Likewise, our City departments and public utilities are incurring unanticipated costs as they support our residents and address damages to infrastructure.”

The disaster declaration allows for greater coordination with Travis County’s own disaster declaration to facilitate reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

For questions and media requests, please contact Jason Stanford, Communications Director, Office of Mayor Steve Adler, (512) 978-2153 office (512) 619-5756 cell.