Austin City Council vote could provide part-time work for homeless

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin City Council could decide Thursday to approve a $720,000 agreement between Austin Public Health and Family Eldercare, a nonprofit focused on aging and disability services.

RELATED: Austin City Council begins process of adopting $4.2 billion budget

The agreement would help provide temporary employment opportunities for people experiencing homelessness for a 12-month period beginning in October.

“This work is really important and people’s lives are at stake,” Brittany Baize, the nonprofit’s director of development and communications said. “Folks are dying on the streets, there are too many cases of folks that have engaged with us who are committed to getting their lives stable and who are just languishing on waiting lists.”

If approved, the nonprofit will be able to team up with several city departments including Austin Resource Recovery, Austin Public Health, Parks and Recreation, and Watershed Protection Departments.

Council discusses the Workforce First Program agreement between the city and Family Eldercare on Thursday. (KXAN Photo/Yoojin Cho)

This isn’t new, the Workforce First Program started as a 13-month pilot program last year, but officials behind the initiative hope to expand the program with the extra city money.

At present, Family Eldercare is working with The Other One’s Foundation (TOOF) as the nonprofit scales up its innovative program for those who are homeless.

“We could have tried really hard to do this all by ourselves, and we would have had some success. But by partnering with Family Eldercare, we’ve received the mentorship, service collaboration and guidance to do so much more in our pilot year. Now we have the opportunity to really scale up our program,” Chris Baker, the nonprofit’s executive director said.

Baker and his team at TOOF offer paid work at $15 an hour for jobs that usually consist of things like cleaning up parks and picking up trash. Representatives at TOOF and Family Eldercare said the goal is to create a pipeline from homeless to employed.

Family Eldercare’s Director of Money Management Shontell Gauthier believes this collaboration between Family Eldercare and TOOF has created, “…a model for coordinated case management between agencies that gets people in jobs and housed efficiently with lasting outcomes.”

Since March, the crews of homeless workers have removed over 100,000 pounds of trash from green spaces in Austin and helped provide work to 255 people.

“We are going to keep doing this work no matter what but we do need the community’s support and partnership and we need local, state and federal investment,” Baize said.

With Family Eldercare being a nonprofit focusing on aging and disability services, officials there said, “’55 is the new 75′ for those who have suffered years of life surviving on the streets. For an individual who was formerly chronically homeless, there is a 20-year acceleration of their medical age compared to their biological age.” The nonprofit said that statistic is based on research from The Emerging Crisis of Aged Homelessness.

Both The Other One’s Foundation and Family Eldercare work to provide housing opportunities for those experiencing homelessness with TOOF recommending homeless works for Family Eldercare’s Rapid Rehousing Program for Older Adults.

Since October 2018, Family Eldercare has housed 89 people experiencing homelessness and is co-serving 15 clients with TOOF.

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