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Memo to Mayor and Council: Update on Homelessness Services During Response to COVID-19 (Dated 4/27/2020)

Austin City Council Work Session
February 18, 2020

As part of the city’s commitment to ending homelessness, Council received an update on the progress of several community initiatives. Leaders from each initiative provided context and new information before answering questions from Councilmembers and the Mayor. These updates inform leaders and members of the community on what’s happening and what’s possible to create a safer, more stable community.

Community Initiatives
Ending homelessness is the responsibility of the entire community, not just City Government. Council heard from two non-governmental agencies leading successful initiatives to house neighbors in need.

  • Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO): Homeless Navigation Pilot
    Preston Petty, Coordinated Entry Program Director at ECHO gave an overview of the approach to housing through outreach, navigation and service coordination.
  • Integral Care: PATH
    David Gomez, PATH Program Manager at Integral Care share the 30+ year program’s approach and latest numbers for engaging people experiencing homelessness to build trust and develop an action plan for a better future.

City-led Initiatives
City staff provided new information and resources on work related to ending the experience and impact of homelessness.

  • Guided Path Initiative
    Vella Karman, MPA, Interim Homeless Services Officer updated the council on the status of the 99 individuals engaged outside of the ARCH, which includes 21 as already housed. Council will continue to receive updates on this specific initiative and how it will be expanded to other encampments.
  • Housing: Motel Conversion Initiative - Strategy and Implementation
    Rosie Truelove, Director, Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department provided two one-pagers explaining the strategy for and implementation of the Council-approved plan to convert motels into housing.
  • Clean City Strategy Overview
    Ken Snipes, Director, Austin Resource Recovery, shared the city’s coordinated approach to keeping our community safe and clean while respecting the rights and dignity of those experiencing homelessness. ARR provided maps detailing service requests received through 3-1-1locations where the City provided service, and a heat map showing encampment locations.
  • Communication
    Jessica King, Interim Director, Communications & Public Information Office, shared an update on progress to create a dashboard to track progress toward ending homelessness and forthcoming resources to help leaders and community members understand and engage with these initiatives.
  • Police Engagement 
    Joseph Chacon, Austin Police Department Assistant Chief, responded to the Mayor’s concerns about how officers engage with people experiencing homelessness.

 More updates on these initiatives and others will be presented at future Council Work Sessions.