March 18, 2021 Current ECHO Chair Alberta Phillips writes: Consider that African Americans make up a plurality – the largest share – of those experiencing homelessness in Austin: 36%. How is that possible in a city in which Black residents comprise roughly 8% of Austin’s total population? Mathematically, that is more than four times our … Continued


Local leaders have recently been cagey on homelessness decriminalization. This “negotiably progressive” dynamic was present in Austin City Council’s passing of the HEAL initiative in February 2021, which will partially reinstate camping bans in select areas.


The number of people experiencing homelessness in Austin hit a 10-year high in 2020, according to a new report. Data from the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition’s point-in-time count show that 2,506 people were homeless on the night of the annual census, Jan. 25. More than half of them – 1,574 – were on the street … Continued


Texas captured national attention with the devastating collapse of the state’s deregulated energy grid. Millions of people went without power and water for days, leaving mutual aid networks to compensate for institutional negligence. In the capital city, downtown areas remained lit, and hotel prices surged while East Austin faced severe outages. Meanwhile, as people scrambled … Continued


In the United States, individuals and families qualify as homeless under four federally defined categories: (1) literally homeless, (2) in imminent risk of homelessness, (3) homeless under federal statutes, and (4) fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence.9 According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 408,150 households, or 553,742 individuals, fell into … Continued


In June 2019, the Austin City Council voted essentially to decriminalize camping and resting in public, which opponents argued made the downtown area less safe. Mayor Steve Adler and other proponents of the decision argued it allowed people to become more visible. Opponents argued it led to more public health and safety issues in Central … Continued


A 2017 city audit confirmed that the criminalization of these life-sustaining activities in Austin creates barriers to exiting homelessness, and a 2018 report by Grassroots Leadership and Gathering Ground Theatre substantiated those findings. Documenting the experiences of people directly impacted by city ordinances punishing sitting/lying, camping, and soliciting, their report established that job loss, release … Continued


According to ECHO’s 2017 Needs and Gaps Report, 60 percent of Travis County’s homeless population reported having had an issue with drugs and alcohol at some point in their lifetime, and 17 percent reported consuming drugs and/or alcohol every day, or almost every day, for the past month. 67 percent of Travis County’s homeless population … Continued


841,000 low-income households in Texas pay more than half their income for rent — a 25 percent increase since 2007. Of these households, 69 percent live in poverty and are at greater risk of becoming homeless. For every assisted household in Texas, three times as many low-income households are homeless or pay more than half … Continued


In 1997, a new plan to help address the issue was presented, which eventually led to the 2004 opening of Austin’s Resource Center for the Homeless, or the ARCH, which provides meals, shelter and health care for some members of the city’s homeless population.