Photo provided by Kimberly.

This week, Travis County Commissioners approved the sale of seven and-a-half acres of county-owned property in East Austin to be donated to the local Salvation Army for a new women and children’s shelter adjacent to the current Austin Shelter for Women and Children. From Sept. 2013 to Sept. 2014, that shelter served 120 women and 249 children in crisis who needed a place to stay and services to get back on their feet.

Kimberly is one of the many women who sought help at the shelter (she asked that we not use her last name, as her children attend local schools). But, before things started unraveling, Kimberly was working and had a house and two children. Here, you can listen to Kimberley's story in her own words.

Jillian Schantz Patrick for KUT News

The Travis County Commissioners Court finalized the sale of county-owned land in East Austin for the purpose of building a shelter to house homeless women and children today.

Travis County Commissioners unanimously approved the sale of more than 7.5 acres of property on Tannehill Lane in East Austin for the new facility, which will be operated by the Salvation Army.

Image courtesy John Savage

From Texas Standard:

According to the latest statistics, about 12 of every 10,000 Texans are living homeless, many of whom have an intellectual or developmental disability. While state programs and aid are available, the wait times are daunting. Some services have lists with applicants waiting for well over a decade.

Some reports rank Texas near last place with regard to well-being of those with intellectual disabilities.  John Savage has been following the story for the Texas Observer.


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Earlier this year, Austin Mayor Steve Adler made a promise to get all of the city’s homeless veterans off the streets by Veterans Day.

Adler, the city and its partners say the so-called House Our Heroes program didn’t make its deadline, but they’re making inroads.

John Shapley/KUT

Austin Mayor Steve Adler has set a goal to end veteran homelessness in the city by Veterans Day. This year, that’s Nov. 11. Despite reports that have said the mayor has had to push back that date, Adler says he’s sticking to his deadline.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

About two months ago, Miguel Alfonso moved to Texas from the East Coast and wound up in Austin. He was looking for work, and in the meantime was sleeping in his car, which he would park downtown. Then his car was towed. He couldn't afford to get it back from impound, so he began sleeping on the street at night, usually downtown, usually near 6th and Nueces.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) marked 50 years since President Lyndon Johnson signed the law that created the agency, a part of Johnson’s Great Society program.

Joy Diaz/KUT

This week, Mayor Steve Adler announced a push to house all of Austin's homeless veterans by Veterans Day. The initiative, called House our Heroes, will focus on assisting the 200 servicemen and women who now live in Austin's streets.

Austin's total homeless population, however, is much larger than 200, and some advocates hope Adler's initiative is the beginning of a movement that could end all homelessness in Austin.

John Shapley/KUT

Austin Mayor Steve Adler has announced a plan for ending homelessness among military veterans in Austin by Veterans Day this year.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Austin is a running- and jogging-friendly city. It also has a homeless population of about 2,000. An Austin non-profit group is combining the two to help people break the cycle of chronic homelessness.

Back on My Feet is a program that uses running as a starting point to help people who are homeless change the way they see themselves, as well as find jobs and housing. The program started in Philadelphia in 2007, and its Austin chapter began in 2013.

Courtesy of Valerie Romness

Long-time Austinites might remember Homer the Homeless Goose, who rose to local and even national fame in the late 1980s as a champion for the rights of the homeless community. Homer served as the mascot for Austin’s unhoused population. He passed away last month at the age of 27 (a pretty long life for a goose – over 100 in goose years, according to Austin Zoo officials).

“Austin’s homeless mascot for 27 years took a forever flight…Folks that hear about him for the first time will wish that they could have met Ole Homer,” Fred Pettit wrote in The Challenger, a newspaper written and distributed by Austin's homeless.

A memorial will be held for Homer this weekend.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

The homeless population in Austin is getting smaller.

At least that's what the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) found in its annual count of people who are homeless last month. But the population is still in the hundreds.

One of the reasons the non-profit is citing for the decline is a small but steady increase in affordable housing in Austin.


One challenge many homeless people face is fighting addiction. And that battle could get tougher for some, as an Austin nonprofit that helps people recover from addiction has closed its detox facility – meaning new hurdles for the homeless and uninsured who need detox services.

This month, nonprofit Austin Recovery closed its detox facility. The detox process isn't pretty – in fact, it can be rather dangerous. Patients needed to be monitored around-the-clock by highly trained medical staff, just as if they were in a hospital setting.

Chronic homelessness can seem unsolvable. People bounce around from the street to jail to hospitals and back to the street. On Thursday, ground was broken on an $8 million effort to stop that cycle in southern Dallas. It's called the Cottages at Hickory Crossing.

Joy Diaz, KUT News

When you think about the word “homeless,” what comes to mind?

Homelessness can include a person who lacks housing. But it is also includes people in transitional housing. That's where Lydia Huerta, her husband and their three kids found themselves after they lost their home to flooding October 31.

Huerta says she "never really felt panic" until she lost her home. 

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News.

This year’s count of people who are homeless shows a decline in numbers for the Austin area. It’s the fourth consecutive year of decline. So, what’s behind the shrinking numbers of people who live on the streets?

Ann Howard leads an organization called ECHO -- the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition. She hopes the day will come when there are no more people who are homeless and then she’ll move to a different line of work. And, if her predictions are right, that day may come soon for Austin.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

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.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT

While the visible face of homelessness tends to be a single person by the side of the road in the downtown area, homelessness is so much more – it can be your cousin, your neighbor, your childhood friend, families with little children.

KUT’s Jorge Sanheuza-Lyon put together this video on the hidden face of homelessness in Austin:

Austinites gathered at the Homeless Memorial and Tree of Remembrance at Auditorium Shores on Sunday to pay tribute to people in the city's homeless community who have died over the past year.

Organizers of the 21st annual House the Homeless Sunrise Memorial Service read the names of 146 people. They placed a small star for each name on the Tree of Remembrance next to the memorial.

KUT's Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon was at the service and put together this video:

Joy Diaz, KUT News

Plans are moving ahead in the Austin area to house about 200 people who are chronically homeless.  Community First Village has been about a decade in the making and in just a matter of months, it will break ground.

The property is 27 acres, with little cottages, mobile homes and even some teepees dotting the landscape. A three-acre community garden is also on-site.