Speakers call for more victim services at Austin City Council’s first budget hearing
AUSTIN (KXAN) – Austin City Council clashed with community members Thursday for the first time since before the pandemic.
The body met in person for a hearing on the city’s 2021-22 budget proposal. A combination of virtual and in-person speakers addressed board members, many of whom said Austin’s attempts to reimagine public safety don’t go far enough.
“The city hardly has enough services for people who are victims of violence,” a speaker told elected officials.
Earlier this year, the Austin Public Safety Reinvention Task Force made a series of recommendations, ranging from expanding victim services to decoupling the Austin police force and enforcing checks. road. The whole report is over 70 pages long.
But few recommendations were offered for the 2021-2022 budget. A spokesperson for the City of Austin said staff were analyzing the recommendations “to determine feasibility, fiscal impact and any potential policy or ordinance changes that may be necessary.”
City manager Spencer Cronk included in the proposed budget $ 1.9 million to cover some of the recommendations. They include:
- Expand the current community health worker career ladder initiative and finalize the infrastructure development of the community health worker program ($ 500,000)
- Funding of the Violence Prevention Office, development of a community safety grant program to fund community-led prevention and response efforts ($ 825,000)
- Funding for specialized training in trauma therapy and healing for victim services counselors who work with survivors of violence ($ 250,000)
- Multilingual public education campaign to raise awareness of the appropriate use of emergency services ($ 105,000)
- Funding of a study led by the Equity Office of a guaranteed income project ($ 250,000)
A recommendation of the working group not included in the proposed budget was funding for a trauma recovery center. That’s why lawyer Terra Tucker went to town hall to urge council members to find the funding.
Tucker, who is Texas state director for the Alliance for Security and Justice, says she has crossed paths with many trauma survivors over the years.
“What I’ve learned is that a lot of them don’t get the services they need, and what they really want is a way to access those services,” he said. she declared.
There are 34 Trauma Recovery Centers in the United States, offering free therapy and case management to victims of crime, with no need for a police report.
“For many reasons, people don’t report,” Tucker said. “Either they feel like the police let them down or they don’t know they can prove what happened to them. “
As for the Trauma Recovery Center, a spokesperson for the city of Austin told us that the analysis of this recommendation is still ongoing.
Austin City Council will have the opportunity to make changes to the proposed budget. Thursday was the first of three public hearings for the community to speak out.