AUSTIN (KXAN) – Lyric Wardlow spent most of her teenage years in homeless shelters. She knows well the mental trauma associated with experiencing homelessness.
“It was complicated for me to be in school and have to go back to a shelter at night,” said Wardlow.
Wardlow now works for the Texas Network of Youth Services, helping and advising other young people without a place to live.
Homelessness increased in Austin by five percent in the last year, according to results from the city’s annual Point-in-Time count.
Exactly two months ago, more than 500 volunteers and city leaders counted the number of children, families and adults experiencing homelessness throughout Austin and Travis County.
This included both people on the streets, in shelters and transitional housing.
The total number found was 2,255, up from the 2018 count of 2,147.
“More people is not better,“ said Austin Mayor Steve Adler, “and it means we need to re-double our efforts.“
At a press conference Tuesday morning, city leaders and advocates also lauded the 25 percent reduction in youth homelessness overall, and a 56 percent reduction in unsheltered youth services.
This year, only 37 veterans were found on the streets in 2019, down from 68 last year.
Wardlow tells KXAN she believes when young people are served, it often leads to help for their families, and a greater impact.
“You can’t access as many opportunities and have a stable life if you don’t actually have that stable support of a home,” she said.