Action Plan to End Homelessness

In February 2017, Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo partnered with ECHO to convene a diverse group of representatives from local organizations to urgently address the crisis of homelessness in Austin, Texas. Over the next 14 months, ECHO convened meetings with key stakeholders across the community and developed a plan. This document summarizes areas of investing that are innovative, impactful, and cost-saving solutions to expand the homelessness response system to ensure homelessness in rare, brief, and non-recurring for adults, youth, and families in our community. On April 26, 2018, Austin’s City Council endorsed the Plan.

Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program

On January 13, 2017, HUD announced $33 million in funding to 10 communities committed to ending youth homelessness. The Austin/Travis County’s Continuum of Care (CoC) was one of ten communities selected out of 130 applicants for HUD’s Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP). The Austin/Travis County CoC was awarded $5.2 million to accelerate our community’s progress in preventing and ending youth and young adult homelessness.

As an YHDP awardee, the CoC was required to submit a Coordinated Community Plan to lay the foundation for implementation of the various projects that will be funded through this initiative. On December 22, 2017, ECHO submitted the final Austin/Travis County Coordinated Community Plan. Beginning in 2018, ECHO will begin implementation, including a process for selecting partners to operate the new projects, submitting project applications to HUD, getting contracts in place, and programs running.

We will share future opportunities for engagement through our ECHO Newsletter. We thank everyone that has already contributed to this effort including youth, service providers and community partners.

Pay for Success

ECHO, Social Finance and the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CHS) are in the process of negotiating a Pay for Success (PFS) contract with the City of Austin, Travis County and the Community Care Collaborative (CCC). The initiative plans to house 250 persons experiencing homelessness for whom the solution of housing costs significant less than the repetitive use of crisis emergency health and criminal justice services. By connecting persons with a history of costly utilization of public services to affordable housing and support services, we seek to improve the health and well-being of households, while decreasing inappropriate health care usage and criminal justice interactions.

Pay for Success builds on an innovative financing model, where private funds from social investors are used to implement the program upfront and to bear the financial risks of the initiative. In turn, public entities only pay for the achievement of agreed-upon measurable outcomes verified by a third-party evaluation.
In 2016, ECHO received $250,000 from Nonprofit Finance Fund to advance its Pay for Success initiative. In 2017, ECHO received $881,376 from the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and Department of Justice (DOJ) to support part of the implementation of the initiative and $885,373 from the St. David’s Foundation to support a pilot. The expected capital raise for the entire project is estimated to be between $17-20 million.

Beginning in 2018, ECHO and its partners will develop contracts with end payors, service providers, investors and an evaluator. ECHO and its partners will also begin to implement a pilot phase serving 24 households, allowing to test assumptions about program design, referrals and enrollment, develop and test the evaluation design and make changes and course corrections along the way. ECHO is excited to be one of an handful of communities nationwide implementing a Pay For Success project.

SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR)

ECHO is a co-lead with Integral Care for SOAR Coordination in Austin.  SOAR, or SSI/SSDI Outreach Access and Recovery, is a program to expedite applications for SSI/SSDI targeted at the homeless population.  ECHO has helped to train 52 people in Austin to implement the program. Soar is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and is a national program designed to increase access to the disability income benefit programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) for eligible adults who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness and have a serious mental illness, medical impairment, and/or a co-occurring substance use disorder.