Homelessness in Austin and Travis County has increased five percent since 2017, according to the 2018 Point-in-Time Count, an annual effort to take a census of individuals experiencing homelessness.

On Jan. 27, more than 500 volunteers counted 2,147 individuals experiencing homelessness in Austin and Travis County, up from 2,036 individuals counted in 2017.

In the city of Austin, 1,003 unsheltered people were counted, with the most concentrated in District 9, which includes downtown.

District 3, which includes East Austin, saw a significant increase, with an unsheltered population of 212 people, more than double the 2017 count.

Mayor Steve Adler participated in the count and reaffirmed City Council’s commitment to address homelessness in Austin.

“I think it would rank as the highest priority” for council members, he said at an April 26 press conference.

Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo, who represents District 9, also participated in the count.

“No one comes away from that experienced unchanged,” she said. “It’s humbling and shocking and upsetting.”

Along with Ann Howard, executive director of the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition, and other local stakeholders, Adler and Tovo voiced their support for an action plan to end homelessness, on which City Council will vote Thursday.

“We know what it will take to end homelessness in this city,” Tovo said, pointing to the institutional knowledge of local nonprofits—including ECHO, Caritas of Austin and Integral Care—and the city’s success in reducing homelessness among veterans.

It will also take a significant increase in resources, she added.

The plan requests an additional $30 million a year—double the current funding—from the city and other sources.

If City Council approves it, funding will have to be secured separately, from the city and county as well as from nonprofits and the private sector.

The action plan has five components to address homelessness through a community-wide system: outreach and shelter, housing and support services, addressing disparities, collaboration and shared data, and public-private partnerships.

“We want to have a system big enough to meet the need,” Howard said, citing the importance of not only helping people who are experiencing homelessness find long-term housing but also working with local institutions—the juvenile justice system, Child Protective Services and the foster care system, health care providers and others—to prevent homelessness in the future.

Affordable housing is scarce in Austin, particularly in the areas where homelessness is most acute. Working with private businesses, including apartment owners and developers, will be critical to creating a supply of residences to which individuals experiencing homelessness can move, Howard added.

Other cities along the I-35 corridor, including Dallas, San Antonio and Houston, also reported increases in their homeless populations this year.

“We’ve got to get ahead of it,” Howard said.