Uber donating space to Austin for Hurricane Harvey evacuee shelter – MyStatesman.com


The metropolis of Austin may catch a break on paying for the 64,000-square-foot mega-shelter in Southeast Austin that’s been housing Hurricane Harvey evacuees since Sept. 1.

The Uber subsidiary that controls a part of that space, situated on the 7000 block of Metropolis Drive, has provided to waive the lease for three months, although the official paperwork hasn’t been finalized.

“We just we had an empty space, and we couldn’t think of a better use for it than to serve in a time of need for the city,” Uber spokesman Travis Considine stated.

The donation will quantity to about $159,000 over three months, or $53,000 a month. The metropolis is understanding a month-to-month lease. The present lease is for 30 days with seven elective renewals, metropolis spokesman Bryce Bencivengo stated.

“Anything that anyone can do is appreciated,” Bencivengo stated. “From donating, in this case, space, to folks who’ve been volunteering their time, to people who have been giving resources, donating to Red Cross (and) all the other organizations helping — we’re appreciative.”

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As the town works to assist individuals return residence or discover new houses in Austin, the variety of evacuees is reducing. About 190 individuals are within the shelter now, down from about 400 initially, Bencivengo stated.

Considine stated that if the town finally ends up needing the constructing for longer than three months, the corporate can be open to extending its donation supply.

Considine added that he couldn’t touch upon what the space was beforehand getting used for.

The metropolis will nonetheless want to pay for the 96,000-square-foot space subsequent door, which it’s utilizing for storage. City officers will search reimbursement from the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Bencivengo stated.

The firm can also be providing to waive the fee for rides $50 or much less to and from the shelter. Uber representatives are on the shelter to assist clients with out smartphones order rides. In the previous 10 days, the corporate says, it has donated $300,000 value of rides.

Uber and the town have had a tumultuous relationship up to now. Uber, and Lyft for that matter, left Austin final yr after the Austin City Council handed an ordinance requiring a felony background verify for drivers that included fingerprinting. Several smaller companies then moved in to take up the market and complied with the town’s fingerprinting requirement.

But a bill passed by the Legislature this May overrode native ordinances like Austin’s, and Uber and Lyft quickly returned.

Uber, in an open letter to Austin clients, apologized for the best way it left and promised that “earning back your trust is our number one priority.”

RELATED: Uber’s apology to Austin is no coincidence, but is it sincere?

Considine informed the American-Statesman that the donation of space wasn’t essentially meant to be a brick on the street to making amends.

“It’s up to us to prove to Austinites that we really want to be part of the community,” he stated. “And if they make their own determination based on actions they see us doing in the community, then we’re grateful for that.”

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