Community Impact: Revamped downtown Austin homeless shelter for women, transgender clients opens its doors
AUSTIN – This week, the City of Austin and service provider Urban Alchemy re-opened a shelter facility that closed earlier in the year, adding much-needed short-term beds for women and transgender people working to end their homelessness.
The 8th Street Shelter, as it’s now called, began accepting guests through a referral process on Thursday. The building housed the Salvation Army’s downtown shelter until the organization announced in February it was closing the facility and putting it on the market.
After the City first leased the property to continue offering services and funding renovations of the building, City Council approved the purchase of the shelter last month. Services will not be offered on a drop-in basis; people who want to stay there will need a referral to do so. Contact HOST (Homeless Outreach Street Team) to ask about a referral: HOST@austintexas.gov or 512-804-3720.
The shelter will initially provide temporary accommodations for 65 people, expanding to its full 150-person capacity early next year. It will also offer people connections to additional resources to help end their homelessness. Urban Alchemy is operating the property. The organization has had a transformative impact at the other shelter it manages, the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH), which is next door to the 8th Street Shelter.
This represents our Homelessness Response System’s first shelter designed specifically to serve transgender people, many of whom don’t feel comfortable and face higher rates of trauma and violence in traditional shelter settings. The reopening also restores dedicated beds for women in our community, a resource that was eliminated when it closed.