Several Austin-area groups involved in the regional response to homelessness received nearly $12 million from the federal government this year for that work.

Two-minute impact

The Department of Housing and Urban Development detailed its annual round of financial support for nationwide homelessness assistance Jan. 29. The more than $3 billion in awards through HUD's Continuum of Care program included millions of dollars to be spread around Austin and Travis County, as well as statewide.

“Now, more than ever, we are doing all we can to get people off the street and into permanent homes with access to services. That is why we are making sure the service providers on the frontlines of this crisis have the resources they need,” HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge said in a statement.

Local awards include:
  • $2.51 million to LifeWorks
  • $2.33 million to The SAFE Alliance
  • $1.96 million to Caritas of Austin
  • $1.27 million to the Housing Authority of Travis County
  • $1.18 million to the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition, or ECHO
  • $839,696 to the Housing Authority of the City of Austin
  • $803,041 to Integral Care
  • $687,690 to The Salvation Army
  • $350,900 to Sunrise Homeless Navigation Center
Additionally, the Texas Homeless Network received $2.44 million for its work across the state.

“Homelessness in Texas is on the rise, and higher costs on everything from rent to utilities to groceries have made it even harder for these individuals to get back on their feet,” U.S. Sen. John Cornyn said in a statement. “This funding will give those on the front lines of this crisis in the Austin area the tools to help Texans secure permanent housing and achieve their long-term goals.”

The millions of dollars coming to the Austin area is the most support ever received locally through HUD's annual Continuum of Care program.

Funding will be used for housing initiatives; support services for the unhoused, youth and domestic violence victims; and other expansions of the regional homelessness response system.

Quote of note

“This award shows the power of collaboration and collective impact,” ECHO Executive Director Matt Mollica said in a blog post. “Bringing in additional resources from the federal government to address homelessness in Austin/Travis County is critical to meeting the mission of a future where everyone has access to the housing of their choice. All these partners—and so many more who weren’t funded this round—do incredible work together every day to provide people with pathways to permanent places to live. ECHO stands ready to work alongside all our community partners to expand housing and service resources to every Austinite who needs them.”

The breakdown

ECHO received two grants for its ongoing work as the region's lead Continuum of Care agency. Additionally, several hundred thousand dollars will help expand access to the Homeless Management Information System, or regional database, used by many local organizations.

Funding sent to Integral Care and LifeWorks will go toward new permanent supportive housing projects set to offer wraparound services for tenants exiting homelessness. Integral Care's Kensington Apartments near Mueller will house 30 single adults, while the LifeWorks project in East Austin will feature the city's first supportive housing specifically for youth and young adults, according to ECHO.

Integral Care also received more than a half-million dollars for its Fresh Start supportive housing program for adults with mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Kathleen Casey, the agency's chief strategy and innovation officer, said the funding will go toward personal support, trainings, transportation and employment services directed at reducing homelessness, incarceration and institutionalizing among those clients.

Some of the federal funding will be used for the coordinated entry process that links those experiencing homelessness with resources and services. Those include Sunrise's South Austin day center and SAFE's confidential database for those fleeing domestic violence.

The HUD funding also supports SAFE's existing transitional housing and domestic violence rapid rehousing programs, according to the organization.

Caritas will be using its nearly $2 million allocation for the "My Home" program to house and support chronically homeless clients with disabilities.

"My Home will provide 133 beds of [permanent supportive housing] and employ qualified case managers to deliver robust community-based services under a housing-first, harm-reduction model. In addition to case management services, Caritas of Austin offers additional services to clients, including supported employment, education, peer support and behavioral health services," Communications Director Aaron King said.

The Housing Authority of Travis County plans to spend its HUD dollars on the "Upward" rental assistance program with dozens of chronically homeless and disabled participants. Christina Montes, the authority's director of voucher programs and homeless initiatives, said the agency also secured an additional social worker for participants.

"Our social worker has a budget through the grant that allows for assistance with application fees for leasing new units, assistance with utility deposits, moving costs, grocery costs, medical and dental costs, transportation assistance, education services, job training, substance abuse treatment services, and outpatient health services," Montes said.