How to get a good night’s sleep in Austin
A growing number of people in Austin are getting a good nights sleep thanks to the city’s newly opened citywide bed-sharing program.
In a city with the highest incidence of night-shift workers in the country, Austin has embraced the idea of having residents take advantage of the free program.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that we have a problem in this city with low-income and homeless people sleeping on the streets,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler, who co-chairs the citywide program.
“And we need to make sure that we are providing those people with affordable, clean, and secure housing, and we are addressing that problem.”
The Austin-based Bedsharing program has been operating in the city since February of this year.
Austin Mayor Adler says it’s a key to getting people out of the city during the day, while keeping them at night.
The Austin citywide initiative has helped around a million people sleep in the past month, the mayor said.
“We’re just getting a lot of people who are homeless or at least people who have been sleeping on street corners, and so we’re really making a huge difference,” he said.
Adler said that with the city now offering bedsharing, people are being able to go to the parks or to a restaurant and stay overnight, while not having to worry about being in a shelter or paying rent.
“What we’re doing is really enabling people to sleep in their cars and be out there at night,” he added.
“The goal is to make Austin more comfortable, more safe, more accessible, and hopefully more livable for everyone.”
For Austin resident James Jones, the benefits of bedsharing go beyond getting some extra sleep.
He says he feels safer in his home during the daytime.
“I don’t know what it is but I’m more at peace with my body,” Jones said.
“It’s easier for me to get out of bed in the morning, so it makes my life easier.”
Jones said that after he started bedsharing in February, he and his family have been able to sleep outside in the park and even have their own space to go camping.
“It’s a really wonderful way to get to know each other and to see other people and to get people to come over and help you out,” he continued.
“So I’m very grateful for it.”
Adler, for his part, has been vocal in supporting the city program.
He has even offered to help Jones pay for his new home and rent it out.
“If there are people in need that are getting to that point, I would absolutely consider helping them,” he told the Austin American-Statesman.
“I think it’s very important to provide affordable, safe housing and I would certainly be willing to help anyone that needs it.”
Austin, like many cities, has a shortage of affordable housing.
According to a 2016 study, only 11 percent of Austin’s population is making less than 30 percent of the median income for a family of four.
In order to provide beds for the city, the city of Austin has set up a $1 million matching fund for bed-sharers.
The program was originally set up by the Austin Housing Authority to help with affordable housing and homelessness.
The Austin Housing Agency also provided some $200,000 for the project, and more than $400,000 in additional funding for beds.