Travis County Commissioners gave preliminary approval to a new development on Hog Eye Road that will provide affordable housing to people who used to sleep on the streets.
Mobile Loaves and Fishes, which is behind the project, says the entire plot of land will be gated and will offer housing for $100 to $300 a month. Residents must prove they are chronically homeless.
Many nearby homeowners say they are behind the concept but feel deceived.
On paper it is a camp for the Austin's chronic homeless population. But talk to Alan Graham, and he'll convince you it's a new world.
"We're talking paved roads with curbs and gutters concrete paths, three acres of gardening, chickens, rabbits," sad Alan Graham, of Mobile Loaves and Fishes.
Tuesday the group took another step forward with site plan approval from the county commissioners in the nine year mission.
Sona Holman is one of many neighbors who came to oppose the project, saying it was pitched to them as simply an RV park.
"The principal of railroading this through without proper government oversight and the fact that we're a far east neighborhood and our voices are not listened to," Holman said.
Neighbors also expressed safety concerns and logistical concerns that come with housing 200 people on 27 acres.
"It turns out actually that the disabled chronically homeless are far far, far more likely to be victims of crime than they are perpetrators of crime," Graham said.
Organizers say the idea is met with skepticism because it is unlike anything the city has seen.
"The attitude, I think, of persons in this community is going to change towards homelessness and I mean regardless of where we are I think the attitude is going to have to change to the point of we're going to have to start saying, "Yes, in my back yard, not not in my back yard," said commissioner Ron Davis.
"This is an opportunity for the entire city for the entire Central Texas Community,” Graham said. “They belong in all of our neighborhoods. The people that we talk about, the disabilities that they have, they are a part of the cultural richness of who we are as a community already."
While Graham says there is no way to eliminate the fear and skepticism in the community, he says he will simply get on the ground and prove it.
The group expects to be through with the capital campaign at the end of the year and expects construction in the second part of 2014.
Mobile Loaves and Fishes says the project will be funded by $8 million in capital donations. He also said about $2 million of donations were pending yesterday's vote.