Texas Hill Country News

New Steps Taken to Help the Homeless Population in Downtown Austin

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Tourists and locals know that homelessness is a major issue in downtown Austin. According to KXAN, the City of Austin along with the Austin Fire Department and members of the community have worked together to come up with a month-long experiment implementing a few changes to see how to move forward with the issues the downtown area is facing like more police and care provider presence and availability of free meals.

Sadly, the downtown shelters have been extremely overcrowded, and problems with drugs have spiked and lead to deaths. “There are homeless men and women and children that are just languishing on the sidewalks without services being provided to them. Because of that, it’s created this environment where drug dealers can prey on substance-addicted individuals,” Assistant Police Chief Justin Newsom told the news.

KUT says increased police presence outside of the ARCH (Austin Resource Center for the Homeless) will begin along with social service providers walking around outside of the building to extend outreach to those who are living around the center. “A lot of times, we drive by and it looks like there’s a lot of clients out there, but who’s talking to them?” Ann Howard of ECHO (Ending Community Homelessness Coalition) said. “So instead of waiting for them to come inside, we’re going to be outside engaging with them.”

Caritas of Austin also will start giving out free meals across the street from the ARCH only to those who are staying at the shelter or have enrolled in services. After a month, all of these changes will be assessed to see what has been successful.