Each day this week I am serving up one item, with non-politically correct candor, that Downtown Austin needs to become a model of re-urbanization, as I see it.
Politicians love to talk, form task forces, and spend time doing everything except for making decisions as they are needed. So, this is an appeal to Downtown Austin stakeholders that know how to get things done: the residents, developers, retailers, and land owners.
ARCH and related social services should be moved away from Sixth Street while remaining in Downtown
This month we’ve read about two measures being discussed to cut down on crime in Downtown Austin: 1) installing cameras, 2) installing lights in front of Caritas. These efforts will not work because they don’t address the real problem. The ARCH, Salvation Army, and Caritas are the hub for Downtown Austin’s increasingly frequent and violent crime. The crime comes from drug dealers praying on the homeless and the mentally ill. Prostitution lives around these places. Drugs are used as a form of payment. According to the police, Forty-two percent of all drug arrests in downtown happen within a block of these buildings. That is an amazing statistic.
During a midnight to 3am observation tour for 6ixth Street Austin, myself and a few other Downtown stakeholders stopped and talked with homeless people outside of the ARCH. Some were under the influence of something, but generally not hostile. If anything, they were very chatty and candid about their problems, and the problems surrounding the ARCH. Below are some of the more interesting things we were told.
- Drug dealers arrive from other parts of town to sell to the mentally ill and homeless
- The southeast corner of 7th and Trinity (Caritas) is a big drug corner
- Crack house at 8th and Neches (pic)
- Crack house on Neches btw 8th and 9th (pic)
Why on earth did they place the ARCH across from a major liquor store and a block from Austin’s biggest weekend party? Downtown Austin stakeholders must work with the city to make a politically volatile decision: move the ARCH away from Sixth Street to significantly affect positive change.