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Thursday, June 17, 2021

Where Have Austin Officials Been Spending Hundreds of Millions of Dollars?

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AUSTIN — Amid a contentious public safety disaster in Texas’ capital, a growing chorus of citizens are calling for city officials to reveal what they’ve done with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars for the homelessness crisis.

“It’s time they show where they’ve been spending the money,” said Matt Mackowiak, co-founder of the citizen group Save Austin Now.

The immediate issue is the Democrat-run Austin City Council could, as soon as Thursday, vote to spend a majority of the city’s federal pandemic relief funds—$84 million, or 58 percent of Austin’s entire relief cash pool—toward homelessness services over the next two years.

The overall issue is the council has already spent hundreds of millions on the problem over the past few years with little results.

“Taxpayers deserve to know how $160 million were spent over fiscal years 2018-2020 and what we have to show for it. Because it appears the money has been widely spent on waste, with precious little new homeless housing being made available despite massive investment,” said Mackowiak.

Furthermore, the council recently hatched a plan to spend a whopping $515 million over the next three years on just 3,000 homeless housing units—a cost of $176,000 per person.

Along with the exorbitant spending, the council instigated problems on the streets by repealing the city’s longstanding public camping rules in 2019, allowing unrestrained homeless squatting in nearly all public spaces (except city hall, notably).

The decision sparked a swarm of new tent cities along sidewalks and neighborhoods, a drastic increase in the city’s homeless population, a more dangerous public environment (including record surges of violent crime), and a wildfire of public backlash.

Even Democrat Mayor Steve Adler admitted what he and the council had done wasn’t working, though he refused to change their controversial decision.

That issue culminated a month

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