Update: KUT's was on hand to document the homeless count this weekend. Take a look in the photo gallery above. You can see more photos on the KUT Austin Flickr page.
Original story: (Jan. 25) It’s the annual Point in Time Count of the Homeless here in the Austin area. Hundreds of volunteers were out Friday and again before dawn Saturday, finding out how many people are living here without permanent shelter.
Ann Howard is the Executive Director of the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition, known as ECHO. She says the counts are going on across the country in the last week of January, as mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It’s just coincidence that this year’s falls on a night in Austin when temperatures are below freezing and extra shelters are open.
“That’s not typical for Austin, Texas, right? We haven’t had a count where we’ve had cold weather shelter before. What that will do is mean that our sheltered count will be up," Howard said. "Extra people get to sleep inside tonight, so they’ll be easy to count, if you will. Normally, we’d be looking for those folks outside.”
Howard also says the cold weather helps volunteers appreciate the hardship people face without homes.
“It sort of underscores the need, because we will be chilled to the bone, but that is what our homeless brothers and sisters battle, you know, day in and day out, is the outside.”
Howard said this year’s count won’t have an immediate effect on how much funding local organizations get from HUD, because Travis County already gets the maximum amount.