AUSTIN (KXAN) — Amazon founder Jeff Bezos awarded Austin’s Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) a $2.5 million grant for their work on homelessness solutions, according to an ECHO press release Tuesday.
The grant is funded through the Bezos Day 1 Families Fund, which issues annual awards for organizations “on the frontlines that are employing compassionate, needle-moving work to help families move from unsheltered homelessness and shelters to permanent housing.”
ECHO officials said they will use the dollars to help create non-congregate shelter options, as well as incentive structures to help grow out the organization’s system of private-market rental partners.
The Day 1 Families Fund has awarded 170 grants over the past five years, to the tune of more than $520 million for organizations implementing homeless mitigation strategies. ECHO’s $2.5 million grant was awarded from a $123 million pool of grant funds provided to nearly 40 organizations.
“We’re thankful and encouraged by the collaboration we see in Austin among service providers, people with firsthand experience of homelessness, advocates, business leaders and elected officials to work toward ending homelessness in our community,” ECHO Executive Director Matt Mollica said in the release. “Gifts like this one from the Day 1 Families Fund provide much-needed flexible funding to help families and individuals work toward lasting solutions to end their homelessness.”
For the first time in two years, ECHO will coordinate volunteers to assist with its 2023 Point In Time Count, set to take place in January. The PIT is typically conducted each year to offer insight into how many people are experiencing homelessness in Austin on any given night.
Those interested in volunteering or donating care packages to ECHO’s PIT Count can find information on how to get involved online.