Homeless solution progress: ATX Helps fundraising still short of its $14M goal

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Last fall, Austin’s business community announced ATX Helps and its ambitious goal of raising $14 million to build what’s called a “Sprung” shelter. It’s a tent-like structure that can sleep hundreds of people.

At the November 2019 announcement, the coalition said the structure can be built in eight weeks. It can hold about 150 bunk beds and comfortably sleep 300 people.

In December, KXAN reported their fundraising efforts had brought in only $50,000.

Earlier this week, the number was updated to about $90,000, and when we checked again Thursday, the coalition said it’s raised $387,000 so far and have $1 million in a verbal pledge.

“A little more than 100 individuals have donated, and we’re so proud and honored by their generosity,” said Danielle Trevino, Austin Chamber of Commerce’s spokesperson. “We are in ongoing conversations with companies and organizations about making some larger pledges.”

ATX Helps said its goal was to have the structure built by around March 2020. Trevino told KXAN they’re still aiming for the same timeline. They would need $2 million to build the tent.

“We are hopeful and optimistic that with our ongoing conversations with companies and other organizations and individuals that we will meet that goal in time,” she said.

The coalition will, however, still need to meet the larger fundraising mark to operate the shelter for two years.

Trevino said, “We recognize that the need for this type of shelter is immediate. So because of that, we will continue to fund raise and reach out to those potential donors until we reach this goal.”

Ongoing efforts to help the homeless in the meantime

Last month, organizations like Solid Ground Ministry and Lighter Loads ATX held a block party to help people who are homeless receive some basic services.

“Second Saturday of every month, rain or shine,” said Deborah Fisher with Solid Ground Ministry. They provide “showering, food, clothing and hygiene items.”

They’re planning on another block party for Saturday at Texas Oaks Baptist Church.

Fisher said people who come to those events sleep under bridges or in the woods.

“It’s just whatever boxes they can find to go over their heads, whatever shreds they can find to make a tent or a covering of time kind,” she explained.

She said people they serve could benefit from having low-barrier shelters like the Sprung shelter.

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