Facing a five percent increase in the homeless population of Austin each year, the city council agreed to move homelessness to priority number one, as viewed in last week’s meeting.
The council approved funding for the next five years for the Austin’s Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH) located in Downtown Austin. The budget was increased from previous years but despite the increased budget, the number of beds available at the ARCH is shrinking from 190 to 130 beds.
The new contract goes in to effect on April 1 and brings a new approach to helping the homeless community. Rather than focusing on how many people the shelter can help, Front Steps, the non-profit that runs the shelter, will focus on the quality of help.
The shelter serves 300 people daily but only one-third of people receive any personalized help about their individual situation. The new approach would allow the 130 registered people to sleep multiple nights and 100 percent would receive case management.
The success of the redesign would be measured by the rate of people entering permanent housing and not returning to the shelter. This approach will focus less on the numbers and more on the individual people.
The ARCH is a men only shelter so homeless women would no longer be able to receive services during the day at the shelter.
In addition to the funding approval for the ARCH, Austin City Council Member Ann Kitchen passed a resolution calling on the city manager to create an emergency temporary shelter. The city manager is expected to report back in May with a plan to have the new shelter up and running by September.
*Image courtesy of Front Steps.
Homelessness is a known humanitarian issue in Austin, and according to the numbers, there’s some good news and some bad news regarding the battle to decrease the number of homeless individuals in the Texas capitol city.
The good news is that, according to KVUE ABC, there was an overall 25% reduction in youth homelessness, and a decrease in homeless veterans in Austin between 2018 and 2019.
The city of Austin began a program in 2017 with LifeWorks to help lower the number of homeless youth on the streets, and that program appears to be working.