TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Travis County Commissioners Court approved Tuesday a resolution to explore funding opportunities for a trauma recovery center, or institutions that provide “free, culturally responsive trauma-informed therapy and case management” for survivors of violent crimes.

Trauma recovery centers, or TRCs, are often situated in high-crime areas and help expand services to survivors, particularly those who might be experiencing street and gun violence, those who are homeless or are members of non-white and LGBTQ+ communities, per the resolution. TRCs offer case management resources and trauma-informed clinic therapy and help victims navigate the criminal justice system.

The approved resolution directs county staff to work on developing a longer-term funding model for a trauma recovery center within the county. Commissioner Brigid Shea recommended staff return in six months to discuss long-term funding options for the initiative.

Staff will also seek out any possible federal, state or private funding resources that might bring additional money into the program, as well as facilitate input and feedback from community members on the effort.

Commissioner Ann Howard proposed committing to a specific dollar amount and funding timespan during Tuesday’s meeting, pointing to commissioners’ earlier vote Tuesday morning to approve gun violence reduction efforts. She said the trauma recovery center is “symbiotic to the morning effort” or approving the gun violence resolution.

“We voted on pilot programs this morning that are in the same exact trajectory, doing similar work,” she said.

“It’s a little frustrating,” added Terra Tucker, the Texas state director for the Alliance for Safety and Justice.

She advocated for the creation of the TRC before commissioners Tuesday. She requested that staff allocate $500,000 over a two-year period for the creation of the center, adding she understands funding would be a one-time amount and would need to come back before commissioners in the future for additional resources.

Earlier this year, the City of Austin included in its budget $1 million to fund Texas’ first TRC. At the time of its inclusion in the city’s budget, Tucker flagged the next step would be for Travis County to coordinate and match funding.

According to a City spokesperson, if that money remains unspent by the end of the fiscal year, it would go to the City’s General Fund reserve funds.

She said she wished the funding got secured this week, but remains hopeful and still calls the resolution a “win.”

“Having staff look at how to get sustainable funding ensures the longevity of the program,” she said.

Tucker said the lag in funding does not impact what she’s currently doing behind the scenes to move the project forward.

She added TRCs concentrate trauma recovery efforts for people who’ve been impacted by all violent crimes as opposed to piecemeal assistance specifically for domestic violence, sexual assaults or other criminal acts. She said the TRC would work in partnership with community partners like Integral Care or Central Health, which provide acute, ongoing services for people struggling with mental health issues or other crises.

“There’s a lot of survivors out there that don’t have access to healing and the services they need,” Tucker told KXAN in July. “I look forward to working to make sure our communities have all the resources they need to be healthy and safe.”

Who TRCs can help

Bakari Henderson passed away in 2017
Bakari Henderson passed away in 2017. His mother Jill now pushes for resources for families of victims.

Jill Henderson of north Austin has personal experience trying to balance coping with grief and navigating the legal process.

“In 2018, my son Bakari Henderson just graduated from the University of Arizona, traveled over to Greece to launch his clothing line and was brutally murdered,” he said. “You also have to figure out how we’re going to get all the finances to do what we need to do. You have the court proceedings. You have mental health services.”

She supports the creation of a local TRC for many reasons, including the role it can play in stopping the cycle of violence.

“It’s just a win-win for everyone because then Austin becomes a safer place overall because hurt people hurt people and healed people heal people,” she said.