Homelessness

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

City Council members voted to expand the number of beds in Austin's homeless shelters.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Homelessness increased 5 percent in Austin over last year, according to the results of Ending Community Homelessness Coalition's annual census. 

The survey, which was conducted overnight on Jan. 26 by about 500 volunteers, found 2,255 people experiencing homelessness on Austin streets and in shelters, compared to 2,147 people last year.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

An audit out today of homeless service providers in Austin says the city doesn't always hold them accountable.

Emree Weaver for KUT

A pilot program aims to clean up homeless camps in Austin, while providing resources to people experiencing homelessness here.

The initiative from the city's Watershed Protection Department (WPD) will include regular inspections and cleanups at nine designated “hot spot” camps to address environmental and safety concerns. Included are areas along East Riverside Drive, Wickersham Lane, Waller Creek at Eighth Street, Williamson Creek and Oak Springs Drive.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

The Austin City Council approved a new contract of Front Steps – the operator of the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless. The agreement, which was unanimously approved, aims to bring systemic changes to the city's homeless shelter.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

People experiencing homelessness can now work for the City of Austin.

The city's Parks and Recreation Department, along with the Austin Public Health Department, The Other Ones Foundation and Austin City Council Member Ellen Troxclair highlighted the pilot program Monday in southeast Austin.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT

A municipal court on Friday ruled in favor of Austin's ban against camping in public places.

In his decision, Municipal Judge Mitchell Solomon sided with the city in the case of Gary Bowens, an Austinite who has multiple citations for camping in public, a Class C misdemeanor that his attorneys and homelessness advocates say targets homeless people unfairly.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A lawsuit challenging Austin's ban on camping in public places was in court today.

Attorneys representing Gary Bowens, who is chronically homeless, argued in front of Municipal Judge Mitchell Solomon that the city law is unconstitutionally vague and violates the Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

Emree Weaver for KUT

It's a new fiscal year for the City of Austin, and one of the myriad items on City Council agendas over the next year will be an overhaul of ordinances relating to homelessness. That won't be easy, as federal courts could inform – and complicate – that effort.

Julia Reihs/KUT News

People experiencing homelessness in Austin aren't just on street corners asking you for money. There's a less visible population that has some service providers worried.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Part 2 of a three-part series

Mike Villegas was doing work around the house with his 12-year-old son on Christmas Eve 2016 when he noticed a police car parked outside.

“I knew immediately that this was not going to be good,” he said.

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. 

Bit Boy/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Houston’s controversial ordinance banning public encampments has been in effect for three months. It came as the result of mounting complaints from residents regarding the amount of homeless camps on public property.

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.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

Social service providers didn’t need a survey to tell them there is a substance abuse problem among the homeless community in Austin, as the 2017 Point in Time count shows.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

Results of a survey show a drop in the population of Austinites experiencing homelessness.

The annual tally, released yesterday by Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO), counted 2,036 people during the January survey.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT News

The empty lot at the corner of Red River and Seventh streets turned into a village of services for people experiencing homelessness Saturday. Around 350 people living on the streets were able to get everything from a shower to yoga lessons at the Pop-Up Care Village. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

In a room at the Austin Congregational Church, Terry Cole talks with 10 young adults. They’ve come to see Cole, but also to eat. 

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT News

It’s going to be easier for some populations to vote this year because of recent court-ordered changes to the voter ID law.  One group is the state’s homeless population, which typically faces many hurdles casting a ballot.

João Lavinha/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

About 10 percent of the country’s homeless youth live in Texas – that means more than 100,000 young people don’t have a steady place to live. Austin and San Antonio are two of three U.S. cities participating in a 100-day challenge to reduce a systemic aspect of youth homelessness.

Terry McCombs/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

When Sam Espinosa was a kid, it took a while for Austin Independent School District to learn he was homeless.

"My mom is a fairly private person – she was never one to let anyone else into,  you know, what we were going through," Espinosa says.

So, Sam and his five siblings became fairly good at pretending they had a place to live.

 


Joy Diaz/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

The Standard has been following Courtney Meeks and William Welch since January. We’ve reported on their pregnancy, Baby Eve's birth, and search for housing.  

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.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

The Austin Police Department’s new program to address homelessness is about a month old. A few weeks ago, officers took to the streets of West Campus and downtown Austin. Their goal was to better understand the needs of people experiencing homelessness who often congregate in these neighborhoods. 


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

There’s a reason it’s the largest retailer in the world — Walmart attracts hundreds of millions of shoppers every week. But for a tiny percentage of that number, Walmart is attractive for other reasons. For them, Walmart isn't just an errand — it's home.


Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

The Austin Police Department is changing its approach when it comes to dealing with homelessness by starting a new outreach program, targeting two areas in which those experiencing homelessness congregate.


William Welch and Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Editor's note: This story contains language that may not be appropriate for all readers.

In Texas, the law is pretty clear when it comes to who's responsible for reporting abuse or neglect – pretty much anyone who thinks abuse or neglect is happening. Often, that person is a delivery nurse or a doctor.

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