AUSTIN (KXAN) — Millions of federal dollars could make their way to Austin over the next several years to help the unhoused.
On Friday, the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) and other community groups will meet to discuss priorities. They want the community to be part of the conversation.
Out of the $322 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development package to address homelessness, the Austin and Travis County area could get nearly $8 million.
The money would help people like Rivetta Bookerbrinegar, who is currently experiencing homelessness.
“I’ve been in Austin for three years,” she said.
But first, local leaders need to determine what projects they’ll present to HUD.
“How can we create projects that specifically address those living unsheltered in our community that have these deep service needs, and so we, you know, what we’re going to be doing over the course of the next couple of months,” said ECHO’s Executive Director Matt Mollica.
Just a little more than 2,500 people are living unsheltered in the Austin area on any given day, according to the latest data from ECHO. That number includes people living on the streets, in parks, out of their cars or in abandoned buildings.
“It’s something nobody wants to see. I don’t want to see it; nobody wants to see it,” said Mollica. “The message is, we need real, lasting solutions in order to make sure that those people’s lives are impacted in ways that are really positive.”
At the top of Mollica’s list is housing, but that’s not all.
“It’s clear that we have a need for more affordable housing,” Mollica said. “That’s clear, very clear, but because… we are a state that hasn’t expanded Medicaid, we also have a huge gap in health care access for the population of folks living unsheltered in our community.”
Bookerbrinegar is just hoping she can see the benefits soon.
“I got to live for today,” she said.
ECHO has until October to apply for HUD’s federal funding.