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A lawsuit has been filed against the city of Austin by a resident who lives near the site of the city’s new homeless shelter, alleging that more transparency is needed by the city regarding their decision to place the shelter in the location that was ultimately decided.

According to the lawsuit, the resident – listed as Ellis Peterson – is described as being “an activist against the shelter.” 

The purchase of the shelter was approved back in June for a total of $8.6 million. The facility is located in south Austin along Ben White Boulevard between Manchaca Round and South First Street, which is across from St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, as well as less than one mile from Galindo Elementary School.

The lawsuit further states that Peterson attempted to request specific documents regarding the selection process implemented by the city, but he claims his requests were denied.

In a statement, Peterson’s attorney detailed the following:

“We believe city officials should be transparent enough to explain how they chose this location for a homeless shelter, especially since they say this decision is going to be a model for locating a homeless shelter in each of the other 9 council member districts.”

The shelter is said to not be a drop-in location, however, and it would be a location where those who stay there are working towards looking for more permanent housing to live in. Not only would the shelter offer those who stay there a place to sleep, but it would is meant for temporary housing, social services and other types of resources for homeless individuals.

The lawsuit further alleges the following:

“At the Austin City Council meeting on June 20, 2019, out of the blue, and to the utter shock of adjacent landowners, neighborhood groups, PTA members and parents of children who walk by this location on their way to school, the Council voted to buy 1112 Ben White Blvd. for a shelter for homeless people. The lack of any community input on locating the homeless shelter at this location was very disturbing to Austin voters who have told by their elected officials value transparency and community involvement.”

According to the lawsuit, Peterson is seeking $100,000 or less in monetary relief, as well as nonmonetary mandamus relief.

The City of Austin has also released a statement regarding the lawsuit, as follows:

“The City of Austin is in current and ongoing negotiations to buy property for a new homeless shelter – a need that has been widely and publicly discussed. Because the parties have not finished negotiating and reached an agreement with the current owner, the City followed State law to protect its negotiating position.”

Any local residents who are looking to voice their own opinions in regards to the new south Austin homeless shelter lawsuit, as well as other topics related to the local homelessness issue, are asked to register online to join a special upcoming meeting that will take place at 3800 South Second Street in Austin.

Thank you for visiting the Jarvis, Garcia, & Erskine blog. We write to inform Austin locals about law changes, events and news.