Ending Community Homelessness Coalition

Lynda Gonzalez for KUT

Update: The Austin City Council approved ECHO's Action Plan to End Homelessness at its April 26 meeting.

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The original story follows.

The number of people in Austin who are homeless has increased by 5 percent since 2017, new figures show.

The Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) reports there are 2,147 people of all ages living on Austin's streets, up from 2,036 in 2017.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

An effort to reduce crowds loitering outside the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless has made downtown safer, local service providers say. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Service providers are taking a new approach to addressing homelessness in downtown Austin, focusing particularly  on the area around the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH). 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon

Austin City Council is looking at using city-owned buildings as temporary homeless shelters.

The idea comes from Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo, who says overcrowding at downtown shelters has led to harsh conditions for people experiencing homelessness.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

Homeless advocates in Austin got a $1.1 million infusion from the federal government to advance a relatively new, market-based approach to getting people off the streets.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Austin is trying to end homelessness among veterans. Homeless advocates say the city has already attained “functional zero” veteran homelessness, and they’re awaiting formal recognition from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The term “functional zero” could be confusing, because Austin still has veterans living on the street. So what does it mean?


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

About two months ago, Miguel Alfonso moved to Texas from the East Coast and wound up in Austin. He was looking for work, and in the meantime was sleeping in his car, which he would park downtown. Then his car was towed. He couldn't afford to get it back from impound, so he began sleeping on the street at night, usually downtown, usually near 6th and Nueces.

John Shapley/KUT

Austin Mayor Steve Adler has announced a plan for ending homelessness among military veterans in Austin by Veterans Day this year.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News.

This year’s count of people who are homeless shows a decline in numbers for the Austin area. It’s the fourth consecutive year of decline. So, what’s behind the shrinking numbers of people who live on the streets?

Ann Howard leads an organization called ECHO -- the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition. She hopes the day will come when there are no more people who are homeless and then she’ll move to a different line of work. And, if her predictions are right, that day may come soon for Austin.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Update: KUT's was on hand to document the homeless count this weekend. Take a look in the photo gallery above. You can see more photos on the KUT Austin Flickr page.

Original story: (Jan. 25) It’s the annual Point in Time Count of the Homeless here in the Austin area. Hundreds of volunteers were out Friday and again before dawn Saturday, finding out how many people are living here without permanent shelter.

Ann Howard is the Executive Director of the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition, known as ECHO. She says the counts are going on across the country in the last week of January, as mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It’s just coincidence that this year’s falls on a night in Austin when temperatures are below freezing and extra shelters are open.

Data provided by ECHO

The annual Austin/Travis County homeless count shows the number of homeless people living the area is down by 5.5 percent from last year to 2,121.

The Ending Community Homelessness Coalition or “ECHO” conducted the count late last month.

The count determines the level of federal funding the area will receive and helps community organizations determine which services need to be improved.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Across the United States, groups are attempting to get a firm count of the number of homeless people living in their midst. In Travis County this past weekend, the count was led by a group called Ending Community Homelessness or ECHO.

For the first time in the history of the count, volunteers reached the Travis County limits in order to get more accurate numbers.

Photo by KUT News

Last year, 2,362 homeless people were counted in the combined Austin–Round Rock area. This Sunday, the 2012 count of Austin’s homeless begins, and count organizers still need volunteers.

The Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) needs people to travel parts of Austin and report the number of homeless, and volunteers to help enter the data they collected.

ECHO describes the work in more detail:

Teams of volunteers will canvas Travis County to count homeless men, women and children in the area to get an accurate sum of the homeless population to help secure federal funding, which provides resources for the county’s homeless service providers. The results of the count will include demographics, reasons for homelessness and trends in homelessness to compare with previous data to assess and improve community performance in preventing and ending homelessness.