Austin City Council: DNA analysis, support for co-ops and affordable housing

Austin City Hall (KXAN Photo)
Austin City Hall (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Back from break, the Austin City Council plans to tackle more items related to processing DNA evidence, co-ops and affordable housing near the downtown medical complex.

DNA analysis – Approved
Council will consider authorizing an interlocal agreement with Travis County to identify professionals to address criminal justice-related issues stemming from from the closure of the Austin Police Department’s DNA lab. Another agreement on the table – with the Texas Department of Public Safety, to provide forensic biology and DNA analysis services, as well as authorizing a contract with Bode Cellmark Forensics, Inc. for DNA analysis.

Repurposing properties on Red River and E. 12th St. previously occupied by HealthSouth
Until November 2016, the property at 1215 Red River and 606 East 12th St. was used by HealthSouth as a rehabilitation hospital. The resolution points out that the property is downtown, close to existing jobs and within the expanded medical complex around the Dell Medical School, Central Health and Seton Hospital. The resolution states there are very few downtown housing options that would be affordable to lower-wage employees working at those facilities. Council may direct the city manager to evaluate the HealthSouth building for the potential to provide affordable housing in the range of 60 percent median family income or below, in addition to some market rate housing.

Support for cooperatively owned businesses
This resolution states that many worker co-ops in the U.S. were designed to improve low-wage jobs and build wealth in areas experiencing inequality. The resolution asks the city manager to develop recommendations for funding to support worker co-ops, considering areas of need, how to best solicit proposals to address low-income resident needs and plans to provide funding for new worker coops that provide services to under-served areas or low-income customers.

Women’s equality
Under this resolution, the council may direct the city manager to provide the city’s Commission for Women and the city’s Human Rights Commission documentation of all previous efforts to address gender disparities within Austin. The council is requesting short term and long term recommendations when it comes to changing city policies or practices “to eliminate those disparate impacts.”

In the short term, city council wants:

  • Steps to review City of Austin practices with regard to requesting previous salary
    data from newly hired employees and appropriate measures to eliminate those
    practices
  • Steps to study disparities in Austin between streets named after men and those
    named after women and appropriate measures to eliminate those disparities.

River Place Autism Center
Council will conduct a public hearing consider an ordinance to rezone property for River Place. As KXAN reported last month, the plans divide the River Place subdivision onto two parts. A developer would build new homes on part of the land to help pay for the Autism Center through a trust.

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