AUSTIN, Texas — Every year, a coalition counts how many homeless people there are within the city limits in order to get an estimate of the population in Austin.
On Jan. 28, the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition, or ECHO, conducted the count. The results found that an estimated 3,160 people experienced homelessness in Austin and Travis County.
"This includes 2,238 people living unsheltered in tents, cars, abandoned buildings, and other places not meant for human habitation, as well as 922 people either in traditional congregate shelter or temporary non-congregate shelter in the form of Protective Lodges (ProLodges) set up by the City of Austin in response to the COVID-19 pandemic," ECHO said in a press release May 21.
To be exact, 713 people on that day were sleeping in shelters or transitional housing while 209 people were sleeping in the ProLodges.
ECHO said that the number of people experiencing homelessness has "remained relatively constant."
In 2019, the one-day count estimated that 3,024 homeless people were in Austin, while in 2020, the count estimated that there were 3,194 homeless people.
Almost 70% of the homeless population in Austin are people who are living with a disability. Fifty-one percent are chronically homeless, 41% are domestic violence survivors and 34% of the population are families with children.
Black people and veterans are also overrepresented in the estimated population, ECHO found.
Typically, ECHO has volunteers go out into the community to count people experiencing homelessness. This year, due to COVID-19 concerns, ECHO said it used data from a local Homeless Management Information System to estimate how many homeless people there were that day.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler released the following statement Friday:
“Today’s report provides a snapshot of one of our biggest community challenges. Importantly, the data says the number of people without homes has remained flat this year, even while there has been increased visibility of people in tents that are no longer hiding.
“As the City Manager enforces the passage of Prop B with immediate action on tents, the long-term challenge of homelessness will overwhelm our city in the coming years unless we stand up a real plan and system.
“I will continue our collaborative work with the Summit to Address Unsheltered Homelessness to achieve the community goal of providing housing and services for 3,000 individuals in the next three years. This includes scaling up existing efforts and building new capacity.
“We all agree we don’t want to see any of our neighbors living in tents. Meeting the challenge of homelessness will take the whole community, rallying together and pooling the necessary resources. We can do this."
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