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Worker’s Hotel

Subject: Immediate help/action required-Worker’s Hotel 
 
On Thursday, January 7th, I testified before The Community Development Commission in response as how best to spend the remaining 34 million dollars in General Operating Housing Bonds that we created in 2006.  Thus far, none of these funds have gone to aid people experiencing homelessness.  It seems to me that tax dollars should be used to aid the truly destitute.  Our meager request  is the only proposal that gets down to the economic level of people living on the street.  Today, I am making a personal plea to you to help us help the truly poor in our City not just the near poor or the housed poor. 

Please send your e-mail, letter of strong support and my core proposal to Kathleen.saenz@ci.austin.tx.us. She is with the Community Development Commission. Ask her to immediately distribute my statement and your letter of support to the entire Commission.  The CDC will make it’s recommendation to City Council before this Thursday. 
 
AND 
 
Most Importantly, please then also send my statement and your strong letter of support to each of the City Council members: 
Lee.Leffingwell@ci.austin.tx.us; Mike.Martinez@ci.austin.tx.us
Randi.Shade@ci.austin.tx.us; Cheryl.Cole@ci.austin.tx.us
Chris.Riley@ci.austin.tx.us; Laura.Morrison@ci.austin.tx.us
Bill.Spelmaman@ci.austin.tx.us 
 
Thank you for helping. 
Richard 
 
PS please shoot me an e-mail so I will who was able to accomplish this task.  Thanks again. 
 
Richard R. Troxell, President of House the Homeless, has just testified before the Community Development Commission and made the following recommendation for the expenditure of some of the General  Operating Housing Bonds. 
 
Presentation: By recent head count, there are 4,4,00 people experiencing homelessness in the Austin area.  The last several U.S. 
Conference of Mayors’ reports have stated that at the current Federal Minimum Wage of $7.25/hour, a full time worker is unable to afford basic rental housing, not only in Austin, but also in any urban center across the United States. 

Recently, a firestorm of controversy over highly visible homeless people who are panhandling/soliciting caused the City of Austin to 
commission an  explanatory survey with the University of Texas.  The study showed that 51% of those surveyed, (103), wanted job training, and 52% were looking for work.  Their over-riding common theme was that they were “soliciting for daily survival.” By a more recent House the Homeless survey of 527 people, 90.7% said they would work 40 hours  a week for a living wage.  Additionally, 
37.8% said they were working at the time of the interview.  In fact, these people are helping to build this city even as we speak and yet the wage that they are being paid is insufficient for them to be housed. 

In the past, we had a national network of highly affordable worker rental housing.  The Young Men’s Clubs of America, YMCA, offered single room occupancy units, SROs, where a worker could pay his $10.00, get a cheap room by the day, stash his belongings, get a good nights sleep, get up in the morning well rested, go down the hall, take a shower, and head out to find work.  Every worker was able to chase his own version of the American dream.  That housing network no longer exists.  Now our 4,000 plus people try the impossible task of fitting into only 600 emergency shelter beds by way of nightly lottery or trying to work while living under a bridge.  Well, in November, 2009, House the Homeless read the names of 158 men, women, and children who have lived and died on our streets in the last year alone.  People, businesses, community leaders, and whole neighborhoods are clamoring for relief from the rapidly growing number of homeless people in our streets, on our sidewalks, in our parks, and in our green belts. 

Proposal 

At present, there is no pathway for minimum wage workers to exit homelessness.  There is no single door where we can say, “Line up  here, take that job, work hard, and you can work your way out of homelessness.” 

If our businesses are not going to pay living wages, we can still create a pathway out of homelessness if we create a Workers Hotel.  This would replicate the YMCA format of old.  It would create a pathway and incentive for minimum wage homeless workers to work themselves off the streets of Austin.  The hotel should be located in downtown area at a site like the fallow Young Women’s Club of America, YWCA building on Guadalupe Street. 
 
This is an historic moment in Austin’s history.  We have an incredible opportunity for the Commission and City Council to take the first proactive step in turning the head of homelessness in Austin.  We can’t afford to miss this opportunity.