City Changes and Christian Hospitality

Two recent changes to city rules and programs affect those experiencing homelessness. Safety is always a priority ­–– especially as a downtown church –– and we are following these changes very closely.

In June 2019, Austin City Council voted to allow camping, sitting, and lying in most public areas as long as no walkways are obstructed nor pose any health or safety risks.

So far, since going into effect July 1, 2019, we’ve seen little impact from these changes on our St. David’s campus. But, because schools are not exempt, we have reached out to our city representatives to request a buffer zone to prevent camping, sitting, and lying near the Day School. The City Council will consider revising the ordinance at their Sept. 19 meeting.

Trinity Center Director Irit Umani said, “when we ask the homeless to move out of doorways, etc., they do so, most of the time, not because of the threat of arrest, but because we know them and have a relationship with them. They know we love them, and they want the church property to be a safe place, too.”

Also, the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH) is redesigning their operations to provide 100% of homeless clients with case management. This change means up to 170 fewer people receiving day services and about 60 fewer beds for overnight sleeping. Given our proximity to ARCH, we may see more neighbors near the St. David’s campus.

“The City of Austin is taking the challenges of homelessness seriously, and St. David’s and Trinity Center are part of that ongoing conversation,” said St. David’s Rector the Rev. Dr. Chuck Treadwell. “Through it all, we adapt and remain committed to practicing Christian hospitality to our homeless neighbors.”

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