Last week, the Austin City Council voted unanimously to purchase the Texas Bungalow Hotel & Suites for $6.7 million. The hotel is slated to become transitional housing for people experiencing homelessness. Where did the money to buy it come from? Redirected money from the city’s police budget.
The Texas city decided to redirect $129 million from the police budget to other social wellness initiatives in 2021. This hotel is the third purchased by the city for conversion into temporary housing for the homeless. The city bought the Rodeway Inn and the Country Inn & Suites last year. The facilities offer free housing to individuals experiencing homelessness to help get them back on their feet. The new hotel adds 65 more rooms to the cause.
“In the wake of Black Lives Matter protests this summer, we made a significant cut to policing dollars and reinvested that in things like this,” council member Gregorio Casar told the Appeal. “That’s how we’re paying for this. That’s the only reason we’re able to do this.”
The City council is already in discussions to purchase the fourth hotel by the end of the year. Transitional housing for homeless individuals not only gives them a place to safely sleep, but it also gives them access to showers and other facilities so they have space and resources to pursue jobs and permanent housing opportunities.
The reallocation of money from the police budget is a perfect example of rerouting public funds for social benefits and, in the long run, the additional housing for homeless individuals will reduce the homeless population and decrease instances of potentially negative interactions between the homeless and the police.
If you want to learn more about the redirection of police funds, check out our article about Denver, Colorado, which redirected police funds to a mental health unit which responds to non-violent 911 calls.