ECHO

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley, left, and the Downtown Austin Alliance's Bill Brice listen to interim Homelessness Strategy Officer Veronica Briseño at the forum on Tuesday.
Richie Loria for KUT

As the city adjusts to new rules for panhandling, camping or sitting or lying down in public, the Downtown Austin Alliance hosted a forum Tuesday to discuss the road ahead for dealing with homelessness and plans to expand emergency shelter access across the city.

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.