Williamson County organizations aim to help those in need of housing and shelter

STARRY

STARRY

As Williamson County’s population increases and housing costs rise, some nonprofits are offering services to assist residents struggling or unable to afford housing.


Williamson County’s 2014-18 Housing and Urban Development consolidated plan states cost burden is the most common housing problem in the county, with about 22 percent of households burdened by housing costs and about 9 percent spending more than half their income on housing. In 2015, Texas A&M University’s Real Estate Center reported the Austin metro area had the second lowest housing affordability rating in the state.


Lori Scott, executive director of the Round Rock Area Serving Center, said hundreds of families utilize the center’s services—such as a food pantry and thrift store—each month and that housing costs are a concern for many low-income residents.


“[Low-income families] are probably doing OK month to month until they have a car repair or [...] something they can’t afford in their monthly budget,” she said. “Then suddenly they’re at jeopardy of getting behind on their rent or their utilities; then they’re at risk of getting evicted or getting their utilities disconnected.”


Although there are no conventional homeless shelters in Williamson County, there are several nonprofits that supply free or discounted short-term housing for qualified individuals or assist with utility and rent payments.


Williamson-Burnet County Opportunities Inc. manages two apartment complexes with a total of about 200 units that provide low-income families and retirees an affordable housing solution, WBCO Marketing Coordinator Ann Marie Ludlow said.


Ludlow said she has seen an increasing demand for affordable housing, and both of WBCO’s apartment complexes currently have waiting lists.


“The more people who come here, the more people we need to serve,” she said. “They’re building more and more houses, but they’re not always affordable.”






1 | Habitat for Humanity, Williamson County
Services: The organization provides new home construction and exterior home repairs. Since 1999, volunteers have assisted 68 area families with home construction or renovation.
How to help: Volunteers assist in building homes, working in the Habitat for Humanity ReStore—a home-improvement store and donation center—and help to govern the organization. Financial contributions can also be designated for home construction.
Contact: 512-863-4344


2 | STARRY
Services: The organization provides foster homes, case managers and professional counselors for homeless children age 17 and younger. It serves hundreds of children in Central Texas and thousands throughout the state annually.
How to help: STARRY seeks participants for volunteer opportunities, monthly open house tours and awareness efforts. Financial donations are also accepted. More information is available at www.starry.org.
Contact: 512-246-4288


3 | Round Rock Area Serving Center
Services: The center operates a thrift store and food pantry serving 1,100 families monthly. It provides rent and utility payment assistance, and case managers are available to connect homeless individuals with transportation and housing services. The center services southern Williamson County.
How to help: Donations are accepted online, or checks can be made payable to the Round Rock Area Serving Center. Donors can designate a special gift with “food pantry” or “rent assistance” in the memo line.
Contact: 512-244-2431


4 | Hope Alliance
Services: The organization manages a shelter for women and children that accommodates 35 individuals. It serves about 3,400 area residents annually.
How to help: Volunteer and fundraising opportunities are available, and donations of online wish list items are accepted.
Contact: 512-255-1212, www.hopealliancetx.org


5 | Williamson-Burnet County Opportunities Inc.
Services: Provides qualified residents with emergency rental assistance, aids in the completion of government assistance applications and refers individuals to area resources. The organization also manages two affordable housing apartment communities for fixed-income and low-income residents and provides Meals on Wheels and Head Start services.
How to help: Volunteers may assist with landscaping and maintenance projects at rental properties. Financial donations are also accepted.
Contact: 512-763-1400



MOST RECENT

A volunteer unloads food from a truck during the Central Texas Food Bank's April 4 event to feed families in need at Nelson Field in Austin. (Courtesy Central Texas Food Bank)
Central Texas Food Bank delivering boxes of food directly to homes through 2021

Some families will be eligible to have boxes with food for 25 meals delivered by Amazon.

Williamson County Commissioner Court members joined Taylor City Council members for a joint meeting to pass economic development agreements. (Joe Warner/Community Impact Newspaper)
Williamson County, city of Taylor sign economic agreements, await Samsung commitment

$17B plant would employ 1,800 full-time Samsung employees, thousands of contractors

Rethink35 co-founder Adam Greenfield speaks during a news conference Sept. 1. Event organizers set up a pink line to represent how wide TxDOT's I-35 expansion would extend. (Benton Graham/Community Impact Newspaper)
Coalition of Austin council members, transportation advocates, neighborhood businesses unite against TxDOT’s I-35 plan

The coalition said that TxDOT needs to factor in climate change, connectivity between East and West Austin, and impacts on local businesses to its proposal.

Children arrive for the first day of school Aug. 17 at O Henry Middle School in Austin, where the public school district mandated mask wearing against Gov. Greg Abbott's order. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas Education Agency allows mask mandates after federal lawsuit

The Texas Education Agency, facing a federal discrimination lawsuit, will not enforce Gov. Greg Abbott's masking order.

Waterloo Park will reopen to the public Aug. 14 at 10 a.m. (Courtesy/Buie & Co.)
Waterloo Park reopening event postponed due to COVID-19 Stage 5 risk

The Waterloo Park reopening ceremony, originally planned to feature a jazz ensemble, folkorico dance performances and a ribbon cutting ceremony, is cancelled due to the Stage 5 COVID-19 risk.

The largest metro areas across Texas drove population growth across the state, according to the 2020 U.S. Census. (Courtesy Visit Houston)
Newly released U.S. Census data shows metropolitan areas drove Texas population growth

The gap between Texas’ Hispanic population and non-Hispanic white alone population is shrinking.

All Austin public school students, including those learning virtually, will have access to free lunches through June 2022. (Courtesy Austin ISD)
Austin ISD giving free lunch, breakfast to all students for 2021-22 school year

All students, including those attending school virtually, will have access to free meals through the federally funded program.

Photo of a hospital corridor
Region including Travis, Williamson, Hays counties down to 2 staffed ICU beds

Austin Public Health representatives say it is staffing, not space, that currently presents the greatest limitation.

Gov. Greg Abbott's office announced Aug. 9 the state has asked hospitals to voluntarily postpone elective medical procedures. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Abbott pens letter asking hospitals to voluntarily postpone elective medical procedures

In a letter to the Texas Hospital Association on Aug. 9, Gov. Greg Abbott said multiple trauma service areas within Texas have approached the 15% threshold of COVID-19 hospitalizations as a percentage of total hospital capacity. 

The city council voted unanimously for the first zoning reading of the property the rezoning unanimously. (Screenshot courtesy city of Leander)
Zoning approved for new 50-acre mixed-use development in Leander

A development with 123 cottage-style homes, 70 two-family duplexes and commercial development will move ahead in Leander.

Tacodeli will unveil its new menu items in August. (Courtesy Mackenzie Smith Kelley)
Austin-based Tacodeli to begin serving cocktails and new dinner options

Tacodeli will begin serving cocktails and a new dinner menu in August.