Safe Havens for the LGBTQ+ Community Amplify Inclusive Living in Austin, Texas

Austin Safe Place program, LGBTQ+ community in Austin, hate crime victims, Austin libraries, Austin recreation centers

Smart Austin Concierge

May 16, 2023

As Austin continues striving for a more inclusive and secure living environment for its LGBTQ+ community members, the city officials have plans to expand the Safe Place program. Presently, with more than 100 designated Safe Places throughout Austin, these businesses and offices provide essential aid to hate crime victims, as well as report incidents to law enforcement.

Initially established in Seattle, the Safe Place program emerged as a means of raising awareness and increasing the reporting of anti-LGBTQ+ crimes. As the program evolved, it expanded to encompass all bias-related crimes. Participating businesses demonstrate their commitment to the community by placing decals in their windows, indicating the availability of the resource, and training their staff on appropriate responses to potential crimes.

In 2019, the Austin Police Department (APD) brought the Safe Place program to the local level, standing as the first Texas law enforcement agency to adopt the initiative. In an effort to be more accessible to all residents, the APD extended the program to include the city’s four most commonly spoken languages —English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Simplified Chinese.

Currently, Austin’s Safe Places encompass a wide range of establishments such as coffee shops, restaurants, faith centers, apartment complexes, medical centers, and select city government offices. Council member José Velásquez has proposed a resolution slated for a council vote on May 18 to implement the Safe Place program in all operating libraries and recreation centers throughout Austin. With approval, these facilities would display Safe Place decals and provide regular staff training on program protocols.

The Safe Place initiative also seeks to address the under-reporting of hate crimes, particularly within the LGBTQ+ community. A 2021 quality of life study on Austin’s LGBTQ+ community unveiled that more than half of respondents personally know someone who has been physically threatened or assaulted due to their identity. Unfortunately, nearly two-thirds of those polled refrained from seeking help after such incidents, partially attributable to distrust in law enforcement. The Safe Place program hopes to alleviate these concerns and foster a more welcoming atmosphere for everyone.

To learn more about the Safe Place program and resources within Austin, browse our extensive Austin Relocation Guide or connect with our knowledgeable team at Smart Austin Realty Group by calling 5127100337 or emailing concierge@smartaustinrealty.com. Additionally, our AI chatbot, Smart Austin Concierge, is available to provide expert guidance on Central Texas living and real estate, granting access to current market data and our entire article database.