27 chronically homeless Austinites will receive support for permanent housing over 5 years

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Thursday, the Austin City Council voted to spend more than $2 million over five years to connect 27 chronically homeless people with permanent supportive housing.

It’s an expansion of a program that began last year.

Right now, the Downtown Austin Community Court has an agreement with Front Steps, a nonprofit that operates the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless. The deal gave Front Steps $340,300 a year to cover 20 people’s housing.

Thursday’s vote will increase the funding. It provides the nonprofit $225,000 initially, then $500,000 a year, to house 27 more people.

According to DACC, those who benefit from this program are chronically homeless people who keep getting tickets and facing jail time. Some have mental health or substance abuse issues.

“This program will be able to get them into safe housing. It’s shown those individuals do not interact in the future with DACC,” said Greg McCormack, Executive Director of Front Steps. “Once we get them into housing, we’re able to support them in that housing and make sure they’re secure.”

He said the program also has case management that works with these individuals on adjusting their health and income needs, in addition to keeping them housed.

McCormack says the program is keeping people off the streets and keeping them out of trouble.

DACC said although it’s too early to provide any specific numbers for the first 20 people who received housing, in general, they know what they’re doing is working. They work with homeless people, so instead of paying fines over and over again, the homeless get connected to services and get back on their feet.

In 2018, DACC looked at 59 homeless people they worked with to help them from becoming repeat offenders. The total number of citations that group had before working with the court were more than 1,500. That number went down to seven after the group started working with the court.

Additionally, McCormack said, “Everyone that we have housed continues to be housed.”

He said the homes are scattered all throughout the city, wherever Front Steps can find an open spot.

“Housing is tough is Austin. Prices are continuing to increase,” McCormack said. “[We work with] property managers that are familiar with us.”

McCormack explained, “We know that housing leads to better health, leads to better decisions and leads to ultimately growth of income. What it does ultimately, it opens up the resources to other folks who then can resolve their homeless quickly.”

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