1999 Basic Needs Assessment


What are Basic Needs?

"Basic needs" refers to those fundamental requirements that serve as the foundation for survival. Access to the basic needs of life, including shelter, food, and clothing is necessary to the development of a strong community and a necessary precursor to individual self-sufficiency. For the purpose of this assessment, basic needs is defined as emergency food, clothing and emergency housing assistance (rent, mortgage, and utility assistance). This is assistance intended to address immediate crisis situations. Ongoing assistance to maintain subsistence falls under other community assessments.

While there are a wide range of other services and supports that may be essential for an individual to reach self-sufficiency, this assessment is focused on meeting basic survival necessities. There are many other issues, such as child care, affordable housing, education and job training, etc., which impact self-sufficiency, but are the subject of other assessments. In addition, transportation needs and elder care are frequently mentioned, but are not addressed sufficiently within the current issue areas. It is important to note, however, that each of these needs are interrelated, and cannot be addressed without taking into account the overall picture.

The "Basic Needs" addressed in this report serve as the foundation for other services that can lead to self-sufficiency. In order to ensure that all Travis County residents can attain, maintain and sustain self-sufficiency, basic needs must first be addressed. Before people can benefit from skills training, parenting classes or any other program or service, they have to have food, clothing, and shelter.

Much of the demand information used in the development of this report comes from the Travis County Emergency Assistance Program. While the partners in this effort, including Capital Area Food Bank, Caritas, City and County providers, and faith based organizations, have attempted to collect better community wide data on the supply and demand for basic needs assistance, Travis County offers the most complete and useful data at this time. The information gathering process included three focus groups with providers, as well as a customer survey administered at several assistance sites (several hundred surveys were completed by customers who receive basic needs services). These steps offered very valuable, but largely anecdotal, insight to this report. The partners in this effort are continuing to improve the pool of available data for future updates.

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