AUSTIN (KXAN) — The fight to end homelessness in Austin has led to a number of organizations banding together.
Some small organizations, other larger with more resources, but the ultimate goal is to get people off the streets and into permanent housing.
One of the newest organizations to help combat homelessness in Austin is Urban Alchemy, which moved into the Arch space in downtown Austin.
“Nobody can drive by here and say they don’t see a difference,” said Kirckpatrick Tyler with Urban Alchemy.
Tyler said when they took over the space, which used to be run by Front Steps, they wanted to change the culture surrounding the space.
“First we just began to engage people that were around and tried to figure out who is here because they need support and who is here because they are praying on people who need support,” said Tyler.
He says changing the culture was step one, then they made moves to make the space more inviting so clients would trust them.
They opened up the common area and turned some office spaces into bedrooms, they also took away metal detectors at the entrance.
“Not only does it look different outside, but the lives of the people inside are also being changed,” Tyler said.
“We now know folks have a safe place to sleep, they are being cared for day-to-day and then us connecting with all the resource partners,” Tyler said.
Outreach teams and referrals for clients are key to getting people the help they need.
Once someone arrives, they connect with their coordination team, a plan is put together for each individual and then they are assigned a bed. Next, the team can help direct the person to other organizations and resources.
Overall the facility can hold 130 people, Tyler said they are consistently at capacity.
“Before we took over, regular capacity was about 70,” Tyler said.
Connecting with clients and understanding their struggles is also important, Tyler said.
“About 96% of our practitioners for Urban Alchemy have experienced homelessness or are formerly incarcerated,” Tyler said.
While there is still work to be done, Tyler said keeping the community informed about the work they are doing is important.
“I think people are asking for accountability, I think they are asking us to navigate and narrate where we are and where we are going,” Tyler said.
Urban Alchemy will also be in charge of the Downtown Shelter Expansion, which is the site of the old Salvation Army. .
The space will have 120 beds and be devoted to women and the LGBTQ community.