AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin has chosen a new homeless strategy officer to start in the new year, leaders announced Monday.
Dianna Grey, a University of Texas at Austin alumna, will begin her new duties Jan. 4.
Recently, Grey has been an independent consultant in private practice and from 2008 to 2014, she was director of the Texas Office of Corporation for Supportive Housing.
“I’m honored and excited to be joining the City of Austin’s efforts to end homelessness in our community,” said Grey in a press release. “There is much work ahead, but I’m confident that Austin is equipped to meet this challenge. I look forward to collaborating with talented City staff, dedicated service providers, and community stakeholders to achieve our shared goal to ensure all Austinites have access to a safe and dignified place to call home.”
Under the direction of Austin Public Health, the homeless strategy officer coordinates homeless response activities between multiple departments to make sure everything goes smoothly and effectively.
“I’m so happy to have Dianna join the Austin Public Health team. Her experience working in the field of homeless and housing services over the years in Austin and other major cities in Texas makes her a valuable asset to the Homeless citywide team,” said Austin Public Health Director Stephanie Hayden in a press release. “Dianna authored the first City of Austin and Travis County Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) strategy that lead to a financial goal to secure 350 PSH units. Her experience will help us make homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring in Austin.”
According to the City of Austin, Grey later helped develop the financing strategy for 400 more supportive housing units in Austin as a consultant for the city.
Grey also signed a $51,200 consulting contract with the city in April.
In that role, a city spokesperson told KXAN Grey has begun laying the framework for financing of permanent supportive housing services, rental subsidies and housing development. She’s also been helping the city work on a tool for ongoing tracking and management of new PSH capacity. Additionally, the city says she’s been advising the city on efforts such as its Hotel Conversion Strategy, the Local Housing Voucher Program and a large PSH initiative.
The city will terminate its contract with Grey on Dec. 31, before she takes office.
Grey served as director of the Texas office for the Corporation for Supportive Housing for several years. CSH Managing Director Katrina Van Valkenburgh says Grey started the group’s Texas office and helped bring more than 3,000 supportive housing units to cities across the state during that time.
“The thing about Dianna that I know from working with her is that she’s really focused on solutions,” Van Valkenburgh said. “How do we bring people together and through that, work toward a solution that is more than just an idea?”
Van Valkenburgh touts Grey’s experience and expertise in tackling issues around homelessness, mixed with her experience locally.
“She’s from Austin. She knows the city. She knows the partners that she’ll be working with. So, she’s not an outsider coming in,” Van Valkenberg said.
“She also has this national knowledge that she brings,” Van Valkenburgh continued. “She has a deep understanding and knowledge around homelessness and around what potential solutions are, and she has a long history of looking at what’s worked really well in other parts of the country and how might we translate that to use locally.”
Prioritizing homelessness and giving care and services to those experiencing is part of the City of Austin’s Strategic Direction 2023. Even with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the homeless population, the city said it was able to move more than 1,400 people into homes.
Earlier this year, to help with more efforts, the City of Austin created the Homeless Services Division within APH to coordinate within the city and with community organizations.
In October 2019, the then-homeless strategy officer moved to a consulting role about a month after she started working on the job.