AUSTIN (KXAN) — Travis County Commissioners Court is set to discuss next steps for a mental health diversion pilot this afternoon. The program may be a branch off of existing services at the Sobering Center, which already provides diversion services for intoxication.
Last month, Commissioners directed staff to look at the feasibility of that potential program. Diversion programs help connect someone experiencing a crisis to resources, instead of sending them to jail or the emergency room.
We expect to get an update on that effort, and for Commissioners to go more in-depth on whether or not the Sobering Center is the best place to house and provide resources to people experiencing a mental health crisis, during a work session this afternoon.
One of the biggest concerns from Commissioners during last month’s meeting on the pilot was housing.
“Right now for a lot of people diversion means out of jail and onto the street and that is not acceptable and that does not serve the community well,” Commissioner Jeff Travillion said in a June 15 meeting. “We ought to be looking at housing opportunities and job training opportunities as well, it’s the whole continuum that has to work together.”
Documents posted in advance of that meeting Thursday show a timeline for when that program might be up and running.
City of Austin update coming next week
Earlier this month, the City of Austin also discussed the possibility of a diversion program, though details on that program have been sparse. They’re working to connect people who are experiencing homelessness to resources instead of jail.
The City of Austin also recently announced two possible sites that could serve as short-term encampments for people experiencing homelessness.
Those sites are:
- 3511 Manor Road in east Austin (between Airport Boulevard and Berkman Drive)
- 4011 Convict Hill Road in southwest Austin (between Brodie Lane and Latta Drive)
A briefing about the two sites is expected to be provided at a City Council Work Session on July 27.
The release says staff could start gathering stakeholder feedback on both properties in August which would include community meetings, opportunities to speak at City Council meetings, and community surveys via SpeakUp Austin.
This is a developing report and will be updated after Travis County Commissioners Court discusses the pilot program in their 1:30 p.m. work session Thursday.
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