AUSTIN (KXAN) — Officials with Austin’s Homeless Strategy Division are flagging 2023 as the year there will be a “dramatic increase in our program capacity,” as more permanent and rapid rehousing resources come down the pipeline. The update came in a news conference with Austin’s Homeless Strategy Officer Dianna Grey Thursday.

The city has identified a 1,300-unit housing goal for its support initiatives, featuring a combination of permanent supportive housing and rapid rehousing. Of that 1,300-unit target, Grey said about 1,000 units are in the pipeline at various stages of development, including those under the financing, permitting or construction phase.

New, physical units are expected to either begin construction or come online in 2023, with the bulk of the 1,300 units expected to open in 2024. To hit the 1,300-unit goal, officials with the Homeless Strategy Division told KXAN an additional 300 units will “need to be sourced and moved into the development pipeline.”

Alongside physical units, program capacity upgrades include concentrations on rapid rehousing efforts, street outreach initiatives to connect with people experiencing homelessness and efforts to enhance homelessness prevention and diversion, while increasing resource access.

This all comes as part of a multi-year initiative the city launched in early 2021, with a targeted goal of housing approximately 3,000 people experiencing homelessness by the end of 2024. Updated figures provided by the division Thursday broke down the trajectories of people assisted by the city’s Homeless Encampment Assistance Link (HEAL) Initiative.

Of 361 people helped by HEAL since its inception in 2021:

  • 117 people are still in shelters
  • 108 people have been housed in some capacity
  • 118 people have exited shelters

Of the 118 people who have left shelters, 44 people have been connected with the city’s homelessness case managers and are receiving rental subsidies. The remaining 74 people, or 20% of people assisted by HEAL, exited a shelter without any sort of housing program enrollment and returned to unhoused conditions.

Grey stressed more work is needed to address Austin’s homelessness concerns, adding it’s also a collaborative effort between city officials, nonprofit partners and community members.

“We want to engage people in their permanent housing program quickly, so that they are confident that, in fact, they are moving toward a home, and they are not going to be staying in shelter indefinitely,” she said.

Come January, the Espero at Rutland in north Austin is expected to open, offering 171 units for people experiencing homelessness. Grey added the city is expected to see three of its hotel conversions come online in the next six or so months, supplying an additional 200 units.