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August 13, 2020

Homeless response gets a big boost in Austin’s budget

AUSTIN, Texas (August 13, 2020) — The Austin City Council approved the city’s budget Thursday, which includes historic levels of investment into the city’s homeless response system.

ECHO applauds city leaders for taking these critical steps toward ending homelessness and improving the lives of all Austinites, regardless of housing status.

Council members voted to invest an additional $6.5 million into Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) annually. That’s on top of the $60 million already included in the budget for homeless services. PSH, which includes ongoing rental assistance and supportive services, is the best answer for people experiencing chronic homelessness to stabilize their living situations.

“The allocation of these funds to support PSH will undoubtedly save lives and help the impacted households begin to realize the basic human rights that so many of us take for granted,” said ECHO Executive Director Matt Mollica. “Our City Council and City Manager’s Office have shown that they are committed to ending homelessness through this budget process while recognizing that more will need to be done in the coming months and years.”

The budget also reinvests money for other key priorities that will allow ECHO’s homeless response partners to make substantial impacts for the populations they serve:

  • $1 million for evidence-based harm reduction strategies
  • $2.1 million for a shelter and services for survivors of domestic violence
  • Additional investment in The Other Ones Foundation‘s Workforce First program that pays people experiencing homelessness to clean up the city’s green spaces
  • Additional funding for the Homeless Outreach Street Team (HOST)
  • Funding for additional Community Health Paramedics, some of whom are responsible for bringing medical care and other resources directly to people experiencing unsheltered homelessness

All these items fund trauma-informed, non-punitive, harm reduction-based practices to help everyone in our community access the resources they need to thrive.

These investments also represent a critical first step toward achieving the goals laid out in the Investing for Results report published last month. The report, compiled by national experts on homelessness, details the need for a system-level approach to ending homelessness in Austin.

“The Investing for Results report laid out specific ways we can make progress in ending homelessness, including investing resources to build out the city’s Permanent Supportive Housing opportunities,” Mollica said. “There is a lot of work still ahead to align all available funding with the priorities laid out in the report, but this budget shows a commitment to those priorities and is a down payment on that process.”

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