To reach more Austin veterans and families struggling with homelessness and poverty, Caritas of Austin opened its first neighborhood location in North Austin on April 30.
This is the first location outside of downtown Austin in Caritas's 51-year history, Caritas board Chairman Harvey Giblin said. The new facility will serve the Rundberg area and is located at 9027 Northgate Blvd. between Rundberg Lane and US 183.
"This is a momentous occasion as we expand to work better to meet the needs of our growing and sprawling community," Giblin said.
This hub-and-spoke model will allow Caritas to not only increase its capacity but also engage neighborhoods where people are becoming homeless, Executive Director Jo Kathryn Quinn said. Caritas is looking into opening more facilities in other areas of the city.
"Our hope is Caritas of Austin will not merely deliver services but will become part of the fabric of North Austin," she said. "We want to connect to the strengths and power of this community."
Mayor Steve Adler said the city's growth has brought challenges such as rising housing costs pushing families farther into the suburbs. He cited a report from the Brookings Institute that found Austin is the No. 1 most economically segregated metropolitan area in the U.S.
"That's a challenge we have to confront," Adler said. "That means for our city we need to adapt."
By the end of 2015, Adler would like to reduce the number of homeless veterans from its current number of about 250 to zero. He said the nonprofit's services will help with that goal, but the city also needs landlords to accept housing vouchers as rent payment.
"I think [Caritas North] will bring the services closer to where the people are, and a lot of the people served here don't go downtown [or] can't get downtown," he said. "But if they can get the services, they can become self-sufficient and self-sustaining. I see an outpost like this as a wonderful thing."
Caritas North has a veterans services department to help veterans in Bastrop, Travis or Williamson counties. Its services help both veterans and families find housing, employment and temporary financial assistance as well as gain new job skills. The new facility also has a food pantry and meeting room. Services are available by appointment only. For more information visit www.caritasofaustin.org.