The January 2020 annual Point-in-Time Count identified 2,506 people who were either staying in an emergency shelter, transitional housing, or who were living on the streets, in cars, or other areas not intended for human habitation. This annual count measures people who are experiencing homelessness on a specific day. The Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) also reports that nearly 8,440 people experienced homelessness and received homeless services at some time in 2018.
The Point-in-Time Count occurs nation-wide, as directed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Hundreds of local volunteers comb the community to identify people who are experiencing homelessness on that particular day.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 PIT Count was not carried out.
People who are Black or African American are overrepresented in the local homeless population. Although persons who identify as Black make up only 8% of the total Travis County population, 36.5% of the homeless population identify as Black.
This map, prepared by the Ending Community Homeless Coalition (ECHO), shows the distribution of the unsheltered homeless population by Austin City Council District during the 2020 Point in Time count. Although people experiencing homelessness without shelter are largely concentrated downtown, in 2020 this population was less centrally concentrated than in 2019.
During the 2017-2018 school year, Austin ISD’s Project Help program identified 2,301 students within the district who were either homeless, doubling up with relatives or others, or living in hotels, camp grounds, cars or other non-permanent housing. The slight decrease last year, when combined with the 2016-2017 decrease, brings the number of students who have been identified by the District as homeless to the lowest level in 4 years. Project HELP attributes this to a small decrease in overall enrollment in the district.
ECHO serves as the lead planning entity that coordinates the application for and management of homeless services funding through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). ECHO helps agencies serving people experiencing homelessness implement Coordinated Assessment, a tool that ensures people are referred to the most appropriate services.
HUD awarded a $5.2 million grant to Austin/Travis County in January 2017 to end youth homelessness through an initiative lead by ECHO and Lifeworks. In 2018, program implementation began, including a process for selecting project partners, submitting project applications to HUD, and getting contracts in place and programs running.
In May 2018 ECHO launched a Pay for Success Permanent Supportive Housing pilot project. This project aims to reduce Austin/Travis County’s criminal justice and emergency health system costs by housing 250 vulnerable individuals who frequently utilize crisis services.
In April 2018, ECHO published Austin’s Action Plan to End Homelessness, which outlines 5 elements that work together to address homelessness: outreach & shelter, housing & support services, addressing disparities, effective system response, and community commitment.
In August 2016, Austin became the 29th community nationwide to have effectively ended Veteran homelessness. This was achieved by building an unprecedented system led by Mayor Steve Adler’s leadership, strategic collaborations, and new housing strategies.