More than 350 Austinites experiencing homelessness have received help from a pop-up Resource Navigation Center in just four weeks.
The Center, a temporary pilot project which ends tomorrow, pointed people towards housing or employment services with the help of peer support specialists who have experienced homelessness, and social workers.
Staff offered walk-in case management to help people understand their options, identify resources, and navigate services.
Services that were provided on demand include social security applications, voter registrations, ID printing, verified assistance letters, SNAP/food stamps applications, resume building, ID renewals, warrant affidavits, and establishing email addresses.
During the first week of the project, which started on August 26, 137 people were supported - an average of 28 a day - with a wait time of 1.5 hours.
Each day there was a line out the door before the Center opened with people waiting three hours for the Center to open. In total 355 people have been helped and staff made referrals to 35 different organizations and resources.
"In a system that can often feel confusing and disconnected, the goals of the Resource Navigation Center were to assist people in crisis, solve problems and identify immediate next steps," said Lori Pampilo Harris, Austin's new Homeless Strategy Officer. "We will be looking at the results of this pilot closely to see how they can help our efforts to tackle homelessness across Austin."
The pilot has helped with gathering information on what resources are most critical to people experiencing homelessness, which parts of Austin have the largest gap, and how resources can be offered in a meaningful way.
Staff will make recommendations about the types of permanent service centers that Austin may need to most effectively support the homeless service system.
The project, which operated out of the old Faulk Library in Downtown Austin, was led by Austin Public Health, Downtown Austin Community Court, and the City's Office of Design and Delivery.
It was inspired by the Austin Travis County Emergency Medical Service bi-monthly Pop Up Resource Clinics.
The Navigation Center also worked with a rotation of specialized providers including Integral Care, CommunityCare Collaborative, Kind Clinic, and Austin Public Health to offer mental health screenings, HIV testing, and healthcare referrals.
The pilot coincides with the ARCH's transition to a housing-focused, 24-hour reservation-based shelter that will eventually cease drop-in day resources.