The Rundberg community in North Austin has a new neighbor. Non-profit housing group Caritas opened a satellite office Thursday morning to help veterans and suburban families in need Thursday morning’s ribbon-cutting marked the first time the 10 year-old downtown-based agency has ventured into the neighborhoods where many of its clients live. Supporters say the benefit will be immediate to North Austin families desperate for stability.
“That’s critical to the kids learning in school,” said Ann Teich of the North Austin Civic Association and AISD Board Trustee for District 3. “If they’re always afraid about whether or not mom or dad are going to be homeless, if they don’t have enough food, they’re not going to learn very well.”
A Brookings Institution report shows over the last decade, suburban poverty in Austin has grown by more than 140%. That’s the second fastest growth rate in the nation, according to a Caritas release. ‘Low income families are being pushed farther to the edges of the city due to rising housing costs and stagnant wages.’
Opening costs for Caritas North on Northgate Blvd. were paid for by a recent fundraiser. The non-profit’s tax reporting documents show in 2013 it brought in more than $11.7M in federal, state and other grants as well as donated dollars. The ‘990 form’ also shows Caritas granted money to local community support groups including: AIDS Services of Austin, Foundation for the Homeless, Family Eldercare, Goodwill Industries of Central Texas, Meals on Wheels, Safe Place as well as several faith-based, non-profit charitable groups.
Caritas plans to open other neighborhood centers, offering needy families a food pantry along with life and job skills help.The Rundberg area meantime, is also moving through a separate federally-funded project to reign in crime. It’s been dubbed Restore Rundberg.