Austin City Council approves hotel for homeless using funds cut from police budget

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The Austin City Council is purchasing at least one new hotel to house homeless people and using some $6.5 million slashed from the police budget to do it. 

The city council voted in favor of the $6.7 million acquisition of Texas Bungalows Hotel & Suites in North Austin on Wednesday, but postponed a similar vote to purchase the Candlewood Suites in northwest Austin for $9.5 million until councilmembers have a chance to speak to business owners and community members about the project. 

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If both hotels are purchased, it would boost the total number of hotels designated to house homeless people to seven throughout the city. It would cost $3.8 million annually to run both hotels. 

“In the wake of Black Lives Matter protests this summer, we made a significant cut to policing dollars and reinvested that in things like this,” council member Gregorio Casar, who led the effort to make budget cuts to policing and divert dollars to housing services, said, according to reports by KVUE. 

“That’s how we’re paying for this. That’s the only reason we’re able to do this.”

Casar did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

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The Austin Police Department was one of dozens across the country to face significant budget cuts after heavy protests demanded big cities “defund the police” and reinvest dollars into community operations and initiatives, citing distrust between minority communities and police.

The Austin City Council also agreed to pull $20 million from the police department’s budget by canceling new classes of incoming police officers and reducing overtime for officers.

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Almost $80 million more will be rerouted from civilian policing functions to other civilian priorities under a different umbrella of the city. 

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