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Counting Travis County's Homeless Population

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.

"Every year we try to make changes that will help us to get a more accurate picture of who's out there. We've been working towards that and, this year, we had enough volunteers to send to the furthest areas of the county," count coordinator Tera Bock  says.

The data determines the level of federal funding the area will receive and also helps organizers find out what services need improvement.

"The amount of people in our community who are poor has increased to a certain degree and any time there's a downturn, as we experienced recently, there's more adversity effected by that downturn," longtime ECHO volunteer Rick Rivera says.

This year, ECHO had a record number of volunteers—about 300. That's up from 200 volunteers last year. 

ECHO is set to release the raw data from this past weekend in a couple of weeks.

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