HNA Regular Meeting Date Change - Now Thursday, October 6, 2022

Hello Neighbors,

We're pushing the rescheduled HNA meeting to the next day since it overlapped with Yom Kippur.

Our next meeting will now be on Thursday, October 6th at 7 pm (zoom link below) and will focus on an update to the current bylaws that we adopted back in 2015.

Meeting Agenda

  • 7:00 pm – General Business and Updates
  • 7:10 pm – Bylaws Review and Vote

Zoom Meeting Info


Join by Telephone
Phone Number: (346) 248 7799
Meeting ID: 998 5626 3154
Passcode: 520374

Hugh, the head of the ad-hoc Bylaws Committee, will be sharing the bylaws
draft in advance of the meeting. We hope to see you all there.

Best regards,

Coan Dillahunty HNA President

Agenda for the October 5, 2022 Meeting of the Hancock Neighborhood Association

Hello Neighbors,

Because of scheduling conflicts, we’re moving our September HNA meeting two weeks later than it would normally be held. Our next meeting will be on Wednesday, October 5th at 7 pm (zoom link below) and will focus on an update to the current bylaws that we adopted back in 2015.

Meeting Agenda

  • 7:00 pm – General Business and Updates
  • 7:10 pm – Bylaws Review and Vote

Zoom Meeting Info


Join by Telephone
Phone Number: (346) 248 7799
Meeting ID: 998 5626 3154
Passcode: 520374

Hugh, the head of the ad-hoc Bylaws Committee, will be sharing the bylaws draft in advance of the meeting. We hope to see you all there.

Best regards,
Coan Dillahunty HNA President

July 20, 2022 HNA Meeting Canceled

Hello Everyone,

I hope you're all doing well and making it through this infernally hot summer.

The July HNA regular meeting would have been this upcoming Wednesday, July 20th. Given that we didn't have any time sensitive agenda items and two of the officers, including me, wouldn't have been able to attend, the officers have decided to cancel the July meeting.

Our next meeting will be on Wednesday, September 21st. Please let me know if you have any ideas for agenda items for September so that we can work on arranging speakers.

Best regards,

Coan Dillahunty
HNA President

Minutes for the June 2, 2022 Special HNA Meeting

Hancock Neighborhood Association
Minutes of Special Meeting
June 2, 2022

Coan Dillahunty presiding.

Special meeting called to vote on a second resolution concerning the proposed Cady Lofts building and its application for a change in zoning.

Atha Phillips, staff with City Council member Kathie Tovo’s office, was present for this meeting.

The building would be located on 3 tracts of land (1004-1008) on 39th St. It is permanent supportive housing (PSH), 100 units of 450 sq ft each, single resident occupancy (SRO). The developers have a partnership with Austin Affordable Housing Corp (AAHC).. The support services will be provided by New Hope Housing, an organization which has provided services for the homeless in Houston. People would be placed in this type of housing by ECHO (, a non-profit that deals with people who do not have a home.

Developers and consultants (AAHC, SGI, Saigebrook, O-SDA, New Hope Housing) originally proposed a zoning change to MF-6-NP (Multi-family-highest density) zoning for their project. They are now proposing MF-4, which would lower the maximum height of the building from 90 ft. in MF-6 to 60 ft. with MF-4. It also lowers the maximum number of units per acre from “no limit” to 36 to 54 units per acre.

HNA passed a resolution on 4/28 that expressed support for PSH but had concerns about:

  • The MF-6 zoning being incompatible with the Neighborhood plan
  • The density of 100 units with single resident occupancy (no families)
  • Pedestrian and traffic safety

HNA asked for a 90 day postponement to review the proposal more thoroughly before the Planning Commission would vote on it.

The Planning Commission Meeting was scheduled for May 10. They allowed a 2 week delay. About 10 people from the neighborhood attended the May 24 meeting, speaking mainly against the proposed zoning change but there were also neighbors in support of the change. Other members of the community at large spoke in favor of the PSH. The Planning Commission passed the zoning change unanimously.

On June 2, several neighbors met with Kathie Tovo and her staff. She let them know that she was in favor of the zoning change and indicated that most of the City Council members are behind it. City Council will discuss this at their June 9 and 16, and July 28 meetings. The vote will be taken at the July 28 meeting.

Josh Ellinger mentioned that he would really like the city to purchase this land so that if the Cady Lofts project doesn’t move forward, developers can’t take advantage of the zoning changes. He also said he has researched New Hope enough to know that they have an excellent reputation. He also talked with Kate Moore from ECHO who made a compelling argument for SRO considering the population of people the city needs to serve.

Coan clarified that the building will be open to both men and women.

Coan displayed the new resolution on the screen and reviewed the important sections. Some of the main points are:

  • We no longer object to zoning change now that the Planning Commision has changed to MF-4.
  • We ask the city to review the pedestrian and safety plan for that area.
  • We ask for a conditional overlay on the property to reduce the maximum height to 50 ft.
  • We ask the Planning Commission to refine their notification system for zoning changes.
  • We ask the City Council to amend Affordability Unlocked to include the same notification system for zoning changes.
  • We ask the City to proactively work with neighborhoods to identify potential PSH properties.

Josh Ellinger motioned to bring the resolution to a vote. Bradley Price seconded, Coan said preliminary results looks like it has passed. Coan sent the resolution and count (passed 19 to 1) after the meeting.

Atha Philllips requested the resolution as soon as possible so that they could start working on the requests in the resolution.

Steven Eckoff asked when we would start having discussions about the sidewalks in this area. Atha Phillips mentioned that Cady Lofts will be required to build wide sidewalks in front of the building. In the case of existing sidewalks that need repair, she said the fastest way is to call 311. The more people that call, the better. Unfortunately, the City has a lot of catch up to do in this area.

Resolution is attached.


recorded by Laura Tull

PDF of Minutes:
PDF of Resolution:

Proposed Resolution on Cady Lofts for June 2, 2022 Special HNA Meeting


Whereas, SGI Ventures (the “Applicant” henceforth), with support from the Housing Authority of Austin (HACA), has applied with the State of Texas for 9% tax credits to develop and operate a building containing 100 SRO efficiency rental units (of approximately 451 s.f. each) for permanent supportive housing (“PSH”) on lots at 1004, 1006, and 1008 E39th in the Hancock Neighborhood; and

Whereas, the Hancock neighborhood adopted a resolution during an April 28, 2022, special called meeting to oppose the FLUM amendment and zoning change for the lots at 1004, 1006, and 1008 E39th to change zoning to the highest allowed density (MF-6-NP), which would have allowed a 90 ft structure citing concerns of protecting the FLUM and zoning; density increase, pedestrian safety, and the need for additional time to analyze these issues; and

Whereas, in the same HNA resolution; we expressed our support for both Permanent Supportive Housing and affordable housing in Austin and our neighborhood; and

Whereas, at the May 24, 2022, City of Austin Planning Commission meeting, both the Applicant and HNA provided their positions along with members of the community in favor and in opposition of the zoning change, the Commissioners were not receptive to the opposition's concerns, and unanimously voted in favor of the Applicant’s FLUM Amendment and lower-intensity (MF-4-NP) Zoning change for the lots; and

Whereas, at the Planning Commission meeting, the City Staff recommended a less intense zoning designation (MF-4-NP) capping height at 60 ft, and the Applicant agreed to the limitation and currently proposes a site plan of fewer than 48 ft; and

Whereas, homelessness is a crisis in Austin, and there is an overwhelming need for Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) with 4,012 individual PSH SRO units are needed to make homelessness non-recurring in Austin, according to the 2021 ECHO Needs and Gaps Report; and

Whereas, only 1,016 individual PSH units exist or are in the pipeline, leaving a gap of 2,996 individual PSH SRO units; and

Whereas, the Applicant’s plan for 100 PSH units would help close that gap and the location in the Hancock Neighborhood provides ready access to transit networks, retail, medical services, and amenities such as the Hancock Recreation Center and Hancock Golf Course trail.


To address the homelessness crisis in Austin and add to the inventory of Public Supportive Housing Units with the eventual goal of ending homelessness, the Hancock Neighborhood Association makes the following recommendations on the Proposed Cady Lofts (100 rental units of 451 s.f. each) Zoning Change and FLUM Amendment.

Despite many of our original and ongoing concerns, the Hancock Neighborhood Association NO LONGER OPPOSES the Zoning Change and FLUM Amendment and Applicant’s TDHCA 9% tax credit application for the following reasons:

  1. The proposed zoning change MF-4-NP is less intense than the originally proposed MF-6-NP zoning; providing more compatibility with the existing FLUM plan and adjacent SF-3 zoning.
  2. The Applicant has promised to work with HNA and immediate neighbors to take our input during the development of the site plan.
  3. The Applicant has 20 years of experience building and operating affordable housing units and has brought in a non-profit consultant from Houston, New Hope Housing, with experience providing PSH SRO housing.
  4. SAFE has informed HNA in a signed letter that additional funds are available for PSH in Austin so the Lancaster is no longer in contention with Cady Lofts for funding and can be built regardless of which project is ultimately supported by TDHCA.


To request the City Manager, City Council, and Mayor to address the following:

  1. The pedestrian and traffic concerns raised by HNA that are worthy of consideration and essential to the success of the project:
    a. We ask the City to review the sidewalk and pedestrian safety plan for the area surrounding the proposed development and build sidewalks where necessary to ensure safe and accessible access for the 100 future tenants of the site.
    b. We ask the City to review the traffic and parking plans for the same area to ensure that there are no concerns for the tenants or nearby residents.
  2. HNA recommends that Council add a conditional overlay in addition to the MF-4-NP zoning, expressly limiting height to 50 feet (lowered from the 60 feet allowed by MF-4) in the case an affordable project does not advance and the zoning is instead used for a market-rate development. This would ensure that a market rate development does not benefit from the granted density requirements secured as part of the FLUM amendment and zoning change for an affordable housing project that removed existing COs added in the 2004 neighborhood plan.

To request the City Manager, City Council, Mayor, Planning Commission, and City Staff to consider the Hancock Neighborhood Association’s recommendations related to zoning changes in Austin, having learned from our experience:

  1. We ask the Planning Commission to refine the notification process for zoning changes to ensure proper and full notification for these changes, addressing an observed deficiency where outdated and incomplete address information was used to notify residents within 500 ft of the proposed change, denying them full notice of the change.
  2. We ask the City Council to amend the Affordability Unlocked ordinance to include the same notification requirements as zoning changes to encourage community engagement and visibility into projects that directly impact land use. Residents should
  3. We ask the City to proactively work with neighborhoods across Austin’s districts to locate and secure properties for PSH units throughout Austin, augmenting the existing process that primarily relies on private developers to identify and secure locations without community input. We believe that collaboration would accelerate the building of PSH units and minimize friction during the planning process

To request the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) improve its notification process and timelines:

  1. We ask TDCHA to change its notification process for applications to include the deadlines for submitting feedback that it uses for scoring. These scoring deadlines are not currently communicated to notified parties.
  2. We ask TDCHA to provide better visibility into how an organization can register to be officially added to the list of recognized organizations that may participate in the scoring process. At this time, HNA is uncertain whether or not our feedback as a neighborhood association is included and considered in the application scoring process.



Coan Dillahunty
President, Hancock Neighborhood Association

Agenda for the June 2, 2022 Special Meeting of the Hancock Neighborhood Association

Hello Neighbors,

I hope you’re all having a good Memorial Day weekend. I've decided to call a special called meeting for Thursday, June 2nd, at 7 pm so we can hopefully adopt a new resolution regarding the proposed Cady Lofts development in advance of the City Council meeting on June 9th. We'll conduct the meeting on Zoom and the meeting information is below.

Here's the Agenda for the Meeting:

  1. HNA Cady Lofts Update
  2. Resolution Presentation and Discussion
  3. Vote

We will post a draft of the proposed resolution early this week to the HNA listserv so that everyone has a chance to review it in advance of the meeting.

Only dues-paying members of the HNA can vote at the meeting. If you haven't paid your 2022 dues yet, the HNA join section provides information on how to pay online or using the mail.

Zoom Meeting Information:

Meeting URL:

Join by Telephone: +1 346 248 7799

Meeting ID: 979 0272 9244
Meeting Passcode: 880866

Many of you are already familiar with the 100-unit, single-room occupancy, Cady Lofts project proposed for 1004, 1006, 1008, East 39th St and the associated zoning amendment and zoning changes.

There have been several meetings about this Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) project for people experiencing homelessness they’ve proposed including:

  • March 16: HNA General Meeting
  • April 7: City-led Community Engagement Meeting
  • April 28: HNA Zoning Committee meeting
  • April 28: HNA Special Called Meeting for Cady Lofts Resolution, 87% of attendees voted to adopt a resolution supporting affordable housing/PSH but opposing the zoning change.

The Zoning FLUM amendment and zoning change case were heard on Tuesday this week at the Planning Commission. Despite objections from HNA and from the community (there was also strong community support for the changes), the Commissioners unanimously rejected our postponement request to allow time for experts to review the change and its impact. The Commissioners then voted to unanimously approve the FLUM amendment and zoning change, setting the issue to be heard for the first time at City Council on June 9th.

If you’d like to view the video recording it’s located here:

Cady Lofts was items B6 and B7 on the agenda. The Postponement discussion started at the 19-minute mark and the actual zoning case started 53 minutes into the meeting.

Coan Dillahunty
HNA President

Agenda for the May 18, 2022 Meeting of the Hancock Neighborhood Association

Hello Neighbors,

Our March HNA meeting is Wednesday, May 18th at 7 pm (zoom link below).

Meeting Agenda

  • 7:00 pm – General Business and Updates
  • 7:05 pm – TxDOT I-35 Update
  • 7:40 pm – Transportation Committee I-35 Update along with Guests from Cherrywood NA

Zoom Meeting Info


Join by Telephone
Phone Number: (346) 248-7799
Meeting ID: 847 7707 4637
Passcode: 980206

We hope to see you there!


Special Meeting of the Hancock Neighborhood Association April 28, 2022

Hello Neighbors,

Many of you are already familiar with the Cady Lofts Supportive Housing development that's been proposed for 1004, 1006, 1008, East 39th St. We've had two meetings now for the developers to present their plans to us and take our questions.

Recordings of both meetings are available here:

Two critical dates for the project are approaching and the Hancock Neighborhood Association needs to provide input to the city on the proposed zoning changes in advance of those meetings and their deadlines for information:

  • Planning Commission Meeting: May 10th, deadline to submit materials--May 3rd. (There's been some talk of this being formally moved to the May 24th Planning Committee, but this has not been confirmed)
  • CANPAC Meeting: May 16th

Even though I'd like to take more time to build consensus and research the options recently presented by the Cady developers, we need to meet as a neighborhood to adopt a resolution we can provide to the City and other organizations in advance of their meetings.

After consulting with the HNA Executive Committee and Zoning Committee Members, I've decided to call a special called meeting for Thursday, April 28th, at 7 pm. We'll conduct the meeting on Zoom and the meeting information is below.

Here's the Agenda for the Meeting:

  1. HNA Presentation on the Proposed Development and Discussion
  2. Resolution Presentation and Discussion
  3. Vote

We will post a draft of the presentation and proposed resolution early this week to the HNA listserv so that everyone has a chance to review it in advance of the meeting.

Only dues-paying members of the HNA can vote at the meeting. If you haven't paid your 2022 dues yet, the HNA join section provides information on how to pay online or using the mail.

Zoom Meeting Information:

Meeting URL:
Join by Telephone: +1 346 248 7799
Meeting ID: 988 0785 8141
Meeting Passcode: 232000

Thank you,

Coan Dillahunty
HNA President

HNA Meeting Minutes for March 16, 2022

Hancock Neighborhood Association

Minutes of the Meeting of March 16, 2022

Held on Zoom and recorded. Coan Dillahunty presiding.

General business and updates

At the January meeting there was concern about the classifications in the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan (ASMP- Bart Whately reported that this is the mobility plan for the streets, which designates streets with Level 1 to 5, level 1 being the narrowest. It doesn’t overlay well on some of the existing streets. Harris Ave. had been classified as Level 2, which allows for protected bike lanes and a right-of-way of 84 feet. For Harris Ave, that could take a resident's entire front yard. Although the city assured us that for older streets, they would never do that, they did reclassify Harris Ave. to a Level 1 street. Citizens can provide feedback using the ASMP website.

The Recreation Center at Hancock Golf Course will be open for in person meetings by our May meeting. The plan at present is to have an in person meeting along with a Zoom meeting.

Cady Lofts

Megan Lasch (Consultant) with Saigebrook Development (, SGI Ventures, O-SDA Industries have partnered in this development project. They are Texas-based, women-owned firms working with the Housing Authority of Austin (HACA) to build 100 continuum-of-care studio units located on 3 lots of land at 39th St and I-35, 1004-1008 E 39th St. Currently the lots are zoned SF3 and LO-MU. The owners of the building will be SGI Ventures and HACA.They have applied to the city for a zoning change to MF-6-NP and a FLUM amendment from single use and mixed use office to multi-family. This would allow them the greatest flexibility in building height and setbacks but their proposal is building only to a height of 45 feet with setbacks of 7.5 and 26 feet. Examples of development sites were included in the slide presentation.

Joy Horak-Brown, President and CEO of New Hope Housing (, is working with SGI Ventures as consultants with their expertise for stable, affordable housing and services for people on a very limited income. These units would be fully furnished, energy efficient with computer centers and resident services such as health screenings, a fitness center, etc. They provide an integrated care approach with case management to deal with things like addiction, behavioral health and physical health. Emily Ablein, Vice President for Real Estate Development at New Hope Housing, Discussed the population of at-risk individuals that would be homeless if not for this type of housing that provides services for the residents.

The necessary applications have been filed with the city and state with a proposed construction start date of January-March 2023 and a 15 month completion timeline.

Hugh asked about the hearing date for the proposed zoning change. It has not been set but Megan expects that it will be sometime in May. City will send a notice to HNA about the April 7 meeting about the form change.

Josh asked about parking spaces. There will be 29 total under the building. A second follow-up question later in the meeting about parking got the reply that they plan for .3 parking spaces per person and that has always been more than enough for low income people because most of them cannot afford a car.

Robyn asked what Continuum-of-car meant? Joy answered that the residents receive vouchers through HACA to rent the units. In Austin, Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) (, is the organization that qualifies individuals for these units.

Joshua Ellinger asked about the name of the Lofts and was told it was named after Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the 19th century advocate for women’s rights and suffrage.

Bart Whately asked about SGI Ventures experience with the density level of this project. The Abali (I-35 and Airport), A senior residence across from the IRS and a planned development at Grover and Koenig was cited. He also asked about the zoning change and what protects the neighborhood from a future developer that might build to the allowable height of which135 ft. Ordinance passed by Austin to increase affordable housing called “Affordability unlocked” ( is like a restrictive covenant that is recorded on the land for 45 years. If SGI Ventures’ project fell through, future developers would be restricted unless they were also providing affordable housing.

Robyn Ross asked how they work with the neighborhood. Megan replied that they work closely with the neighborhoods and listen to any concerns or complaints. They are open for suggestions about anything. Example given was the color of the building. Joy said that the best way to see how these types of projects have been managed over time is to visit some of the existing properties.

Report from the Transportation Committee (Robyn Ross)

Robyn reported on a meeting with TxDot in January. She displayed the diagram of the preferred proposal for the reconstruction of the I-35 corridor through downtown, which is titled “Modified Alternative 3.” In this proposal the upper decks would be removed and the highway would be lowered below ground level. In the downtown area, the construction includes several east/west crossings (aka caps and stitches) to allow easy pedestrian and biking over the highway. The frontage roads are all on the west side and constructed like a boulevard until 15th St. Then they move to the east side but still together until Dean Keaton. North of this the frontage roads go back to the traditional model. The caps and stitches will be installed as part of the project but the city will have to provide the funds for the bike lanes, etc that would be built on the caps. In the Hancock area there are 3 crossings at 32nd, 38 ½ and 41st St, with potential for public spaces. Airport Blvd will be at grade with the freeway running below it. Pedestrian pathways crossing Airport are still not straightforward. Modified Alternative 3 will take 20 less homes through eminent domain.

The Transportation Committee is still concerned about the traffic impact on our neighborhood of the extra lanes for a total of 20 lanes. Frontage roads will be lowered to 35 MPH.

Robyn also reported on the meeting between the North Central I-35 Neighborhood Coalition (NCINC- And TxDot in late February. They questioned TxDot about Project Connect in relation to the number of lanes needed for I-35 since the orange line down Guadalupe and Lamar will be transporting a large number of passengers along with additional bus lines. TxDot referred to a report to be published by the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University that indicates the number of lanes will still be necessary. There was concern about simultaneously doing all 3 projects (Project Connect, I-35 reconstruction and moving Red River after the Moody Center). The answer was that they were coordinating all of the projects.

Mary Sanger asked if there was still talk about rerouting trucks to 130. Robyn said that there are still too many trucks that have to go through Austin so no plans to restrict that at present. TTI did a study on this specific point.

Report from the Bylaws Committee (Hugh)

Committee has been cleaning up the bylaws. Committee will have one more meeting before the May meeting of the entire association. Everyone will be notified and invited to that meeting when the date is set. Robyn reported a new idea is to add a Talent & Membership Committee that would function somewhat like a nominating committee to ensure that the Association has members running for office by the time of the annual elections. They can scout for potential officers during the year, get them acquainted with what each position entails.

Recorded by Laura Tull

HNA Meeting Minutes for January 19, 2022

Link to Video


President Coan Dillahunty called the meeting to order at 7:01

Harry Swinney moved to adopt the minutes from the December meeting, and Laura Tull seconded.

Coan reminded everyone to pay dues. Dues are $7/adult and the term runs for the calendar year. Instructions are at

Treasurer report from Bruce Fairchild: beginning balance of about $4068, $557 expenses for newsletter, ANC dues and bank fee; $471 gained in HNA dues, ending balance of $3983
Money market account has $2500.

Coan introduced the candidates for officer. Three candidates from last year were able to continue serving: Coan as president, Bart Whatley as vice president, Bruce Fairchild as treasurer. Robyn Ross did not run again for secretary but nominated Laura Tull to serve. Robyn’s nomination of Laura: “Laura has been an enthusiastic volunteer in her 2ish years in the neighborhood, most recently participating in the creek cleanup on It’s My Park Day. She also writes a backyard birding column for the Hancock Herald newsletter and serves on the newsletter’s editorial board. Laura is a retired librarian and has served as secretary in other organizations. She’ll do a great job.” Laura said hello.

The candidates were each nominated verbally by an HNA member. A voice vote was taken and the slate was unanimously approved.

Next was a discussion of the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan, which had been the subject of much conversation on the The city of Austin is making amendments to the ASMP and wanted comments by January 30.

Coan showed the city’s website about the project and the map that shows where individual changes might be made on streets. There aren’t many changes to our neighborhood on Level 1 streets; the focus has been on Level 2 (of which there are multiple types). For example, the proposed changes to Harris Avenue are considered a “technical correction,” meaning the ASMP is aligning terminology with actual plans for changes to the street for the bicycle network. The city is encouraging you to comment on the map and submit questions.

Bart also put together an analysis for our neighborhood. He said the changes can look alarming, and the city didn’t do a very good job alerting people to the proposed changes, but the plan is probably not as radical as it might initially seem. He agreed with Hannes Mandel’s email to about the situation. Bart suspects city planners will modify the standards in the ASMP document to make them fit actual conditions on the ground, but it would be good to hear from the city about how they’d do that. This could be a future agenda item.

Bart said one potential concern is the types of buildings and uses that the city says are appropriate for each “level” of street. For instance, a future zoning request could be justified on the basis that “a level 2 street is appropriate for X denser development.” Bart would like to hear the city say this is all about bike/ped safety and not using ASMP as backdoor tool to justify future zoning requests.

Coan said that if the city were to take property to expand the ROW, there would have to be compensation for that, and as far as he knows pretty much all the bond funding for sidewalks and bike lanes is spoken for. The sidewalks by his house on Red River were recently expanded, and the city’s initial plan had to be revised to take into account heritage trees, power poles, and road elements. Ultimately the sidewalk remained next to the street and just expanded from 5 to 7 feet because of conditions on the ground. Coan assumed a similar dynamic would be in play with these ASMP changes.

Send comments/questions to

Hannes Mandel of the transportation committee gave a quick update on I-35. TxDOT was holding a meeting the following week and revealing updates to its plans.
The City of Austin is taking public comment for the cap and stitch project. Their framework is mostly focused on the downtown area, so it would be important for us to comment and ask for additional caps and stitches in our area.
The transportation committee is still planning to invite both TxDOT and Project Connect reps to come to meeting and present/discuss together about I-35.

Bradley Price, HNA’s Leeaison with Lee Elementary, introduced himself. His sons went to Lee and now his grandchildren attend. He said that a bike lane on Harris would help the many kids who ride bikes to school – the Lee principal encourages people to take alternative modes of transportation. Bradley helps with the chicken coop at Lee and runs the Styrofoam recycling project (the blue bin) – he takes full loads to the Recycle and Reuse facility, where it’s turned into a liquid that can be turned into more plastic on site.

Guest presentation: Michelle Myles, director of the Office of Violence Prevention, spoke about her team’s work. Ms. Myles has two degrees in psychology and training to work with people with severe mental illness. She has worked in drug treatment centers and with the homeless population in Austin including at supportive housing locations. She previously worked for the Homeless Strategy division, on projects including the response to encampments around the ARCH in 2019 before the pandemic, and the city’s efforts to provide food and information to people experiencing homelessness during the early days of the pandemic.

The Office of Violence Prevention aims to create safety for every Austinite to thrive. It takes a public health approach to violence, with an equity focus. A public health approach looks further upstream and asks, what do communities with no violence have in common (food, shelter, jobs, community support, relationships with friends and neighbors)? And where are the inflection points between that situation and the opposite, which is crisis response/police involvement? The office is trying to work further upstream and provide support to communities to reduce the likelihood they’ll need police response.

Origin: In 2019 the Gun Safety Taskforce suggested the need for an OVP. The Reimagining Public Safety process also called for an OVP. Council Member Alison Alter really championed it. The office was established early 2020, initially funded with $1.9m in FY21 reallocated from APD, and Ms. Myles was hired June 7, 2021.

The OVP’s value proposition: choose interventions with impact and hold ourselves accountable. The goal is to make health, peace and prosperity accessible to all Austinites. Build trust between community and the city/OVP. Interventions will be data informed and OVP will be transparent about showing results. OVP wants to partner with community orgs and other city departments and government agencies. The OVP will use evidence-based practices (that have been shown to work elsewhere) but tailor them for local Austin conditions. Technical advisors who are national leaders are helping the office build its plans. Ms. Myles also noted that the word “violent” can be used to stigmatize communities and populations and cause further harm.

Focus for 2022: The office became fully staffed in December with three FT permanent staff plus some temps. It hired Dr. Chico Tillman (a violence prevention expert based in Chicago) to identify hotspots with the highest incidence of violent crime. Community-led interventions will be targeted in those areas.
The National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform and Cities United are other organizations supporting OVP. Austin is among 16 cities selected by the Biden administration to work on community violence intervention, and through this initiative technical advisors have been assigned to Austin.

Programs in development:

  • Limiting impact of firearms. Lock Arms for Life is a safe gun storage awareness campaign and gun lock distribution. This will launch in March.
  • Firearms surrender protocol – relates to the nexus between domestic violence and gun violence. Goal is to establish a protocol for surrendering firearms (there isn’t one right now). Also to give the person who is causing harm the resources they need to stabilize.
  • Investing in youth: school-based programs for kids experiencing behavioral disturbances; art projects in communities impacted by violence, to build social cohesion among kids from Latinx and African diaspora communities
  • Community violence prevention intervention: connected with Dr. Tillman, in high-risk areas
  • Trauma recovery centers: these offer psychotherapy, case management, assistance applying for victim services dollars, legal assistance, hosing assistance; these are put in communities most impacted by violence. Texas doesn’t have these yet. There are 39 across the country.
    Community rooted mini grants: to invest in community organizations doing violence prevention/healing work; proposals open in March.
  • Community violence interruption initiative: projects with Dr. Tillman and the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform. These look at violence as a public health issue and work with people who have witnessed violence or have experience with the criminal justice system.
  • Address Your Stress campaign: to raise collective awareness of how stress impacts behavior; the pandemic and all its side effects have raised ambient stress levels across the board, making it more difficult for people to control impulses

More information:

Question: If people in the neighborhood own firearms, what should they do to create a safer environment?
Answer: Secure your firearm. A gun lock secures it (from children, accidental shootings, etc.) but also can interrupt impulsive behavior. see for free gun locks.

Question: How can we be an ally or receptive to the work of your office?
Answer: Have compassion for yourself and others. Be more in tune with the ways we create small harm to our selves and others. Realize systemic racism and structural problems continue to influence our world today, but we have the ability to create new things. Understand and have compassion for what happened before and also be open to opportunities to change.

Question: Where is the dashboard you mentioned (regarding local violence data)?
Answer: It doesn’t exist yet but will be on the OVP website. We’re meeting with other cities and figuring out what data to collect and how to display it. We don’t want this process to further stigmatize communities. The hotspots we’ve identified include Rundberg, St. John, Dove Springs, Downtown. There are backstories that influence people’s behavior including institutional racism, generational trauma and extreme stress.

The meeting adjourned about 8:33 pm.

Syndicate content