8:58 am
Thu October 25, 2012

No Simple Solution for Austin Homeless (Updated)

Gerry and Melanie Yount and their 12-year-old son live in a pickup truck as they try to get medical care.
Joy Diaz, KUT News

Update: Oct. 25, 2012 at 9 a.m.:

After airing this story on Monday, listeners have been wondering what happened to the Yount family.  The first thing was that a listener drove by the parking lot where they were and gave them a cell phone.  Others have called asking for ways in which they can help.  KUT now has a way to get in touch with the Younts.  If you have any interest in helping them, you can contact KUT.

Original Story posted on KUT.org Oct. 23, 2012 at 5:30 a.m.:

The city of Miami claims to have taken almost half of its homeless population off the streets in the last 10 years. In Austin, where homeless services are stretched to the limit, the City Council is looking for new solutions. Last night, council members met with officials from Miami. The challenges of one local homeless family that is struggling on the streets show how complex the problem can be.

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AM Update: 8/23/12
8:40 am
Thu August 23, 2012

AM Update: APD Wants New Copter, Removing Downtown Benches, KUT Signal Vote

APD wants to a new helicopter like the one pictured, in part, so they can better respond to emergencies like grass fires.

Austin Police Want New Helicopter, More Staff

The council is set to discuss purchasing a new helicopter for the Austin Police Department today.

The department says its current fleet is old and in need of maintenance and that a new helicopter would enable officers to more quickly respond to some emergencies.

APD also wants council to approve a bigger budget for the department so it can hire more staff.

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1:41 pm
Wed July 25, 2012

Police Need Assistance in Solving Slaying of Homeless Man

William Roy Greer would have marked his 50th birthday on July 29.
Austin Police Department

Update: At a press conference this morning, Austin Police Department Homicide Sergeant Brian Miller said Greer’s family told officials Greer was new to Austin from the Houston area. He said police are still unsure as to when Greer came to Austin or what brought him here.

Miller said the department does not have any evidence linking Greer’s death to the homeless woman murdered last month, but is not ruling out possible links between the cases.

Original post (11:35 a.m.): Austin police are looking for help in solving the murder of a homeless man along the shores of Lady Bird Lake.

William Roy Greer, 49, was found yesterday morning in the 200 block of West Cesar Chavez. APD writes:

Greer was pronounced deceased on scene. The investigation has shown that Greer was assaulted and killed along the Lady Bird Lake Hike & Bike Trail near West Cesar Chavez Street and Colorado Street. His body was found at 8:09 am on Tuesday, July 24, 2012. Mr. Greer was homeless and had recently arrived in Austin.

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12:27 pm
Tue July 24, 2012

Suspicious Death Near Hike & Bike Trail

View Suspicious Death in a larger map

One eastbound lane of W. Cesar Chavez Street  is shut down and part of the Hike and Bike Trail is closed as Austin Police investigate a suspicious death.

APD says a bicyclist called police just after 8 a.m. when he found a man lying near the trail. The man was dead in a sleeping bag with obvious trauma. Officers say he appears to have been homeless.

Senior Police Officer Veneza Bremner says it’s unclear how long the man was there but says the location is noteworthy because it’s very public area.

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3:16 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

After Slaying, a Call for Homeless Women's Shelter

House the Homeless' memorial marker in memory of fallen homeless.
House the Homeless

In the aftermath of a recent tragedy, the push to create a shelter for homeless women is gaining momentum.

On June 15, Valerie Godoy was murdered and her body left at Duncan Park on Ninth Street in downtown Austin. (Police are still looking for her assailant.) Local advocacy organization House the Homeless says the murder is a wake-up call to Austin.

A life on the streets leaves all homeless susceptible to crime and attacks. But noting the dangers unique to female members of the homeless population, House the Homeless is calling for the creation of a women’s homeless shelter – the Valerie Godoy Women’s Shelter.

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4:00 pm
Mon June 11, 2012

How the Homeless Deal With the Heat in Austin

KUT News

As the Texas heat rolls in, some local organizations are trying to figure out how to help the elderly and homeless weather extreme temperatures. 

“Water shouldn’t be a luxury,” says Steve Luteran, Executive Director of Front Steps, which provides assistance for the homeless. “Hydration is a fundamental need of the human body. Without it, Austin’s homeless face heat exhaustion, stroke and permanently disabling conditions.”

Front Steps will begin distributing roughly 76,000 bottles of water to the homeless on Wednesday.

And what of the elderly? Family Eldercare has a different method to help them stay cool. They’re planning to deliver around 7,000 fans and 100 air-conditioners to individuals and families in need. 

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4:03 pm
Thu May 24, 2012

Voices From Wooldridge Square: As Park Closes, Homeless Austinites Wonder What's Next

Woolridge regular Ken and his dog.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The City of Austin is planning to temporarily close Wooldridge Square Park downtown for landscape renovations. The measure will affect several homeless people who call the park home.

KUT News recently spoke with a few Wooldridge regulars who spend most of their days there.

You can listen to interviews with "Ken," "Bruce" and "Michael" by KUT News  interns Mario Jacinto and Filipa Rodrigues above.

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City Council
3:19 pm
Thu May 24, 2012

City Council Update: Hurry Up and Wait

Assistant City Manager Bert Lumbreras, Leadership Committee on Permanent Supportive Housing Finance Chair Ed McHorse , and Texas Director for the Corporation for Supportive Housing Dianna Lewis-Gray.
Image courtesy City of Austin

It’s slow-going at City Hall as the Austin City Council trudges through its agenda.

A lengthy executive session has kept the council off the dais since this afternoon. And some marquee items have been postponed until this evening: The sale and redevelopment of the former Green Water Treatment Plant site downtown (Items 12 and 13) won’t be heard until at least 6:30 p.m.

And Item 22, which would allow Austin Pets Alive to occupy the entire Town Lake Animal Center won’t be heard until at least 6 p.m.  Similarly, a public hearing on new regulations for short-term rentals by homeowners (Item 140) has been postponed to June 7. 

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Parks and Recreation
2:35 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Wooldridge Park to Close for Eight Months, Displacing Homeless

Landscape improvements will close the downtown park - popular with Austin's homeless population - for months.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Wooldridge Square, a small park between the Travis County Courthouse and Austin's Central Library downtown, will be closed for eight months starting in June.

The city is also reaching out to a few homeless people who live in the park, and referring them to social services. Austin's Department of Health and Human Services is asking local homeless service organizations to post this flyer in their offices.

“I’m not happy about the closure, and I don’t know if it’s really worth the effort,” homeless man Bruce Kline told KUT News. He said he’s lived in the park for about two years and doesn’t want to live in a homeless shelter. “They’re supposed to have people come out and tell us where to go once the park closes, but they haven’t yet.” 

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AM Update
8:22 am
Wed March 14, 2012

AM Update: The Boss Speaks Tomorrow, Federal Funds to Fight Homelessness, County Workers Get a Raise

Bruce Springsteen is this year's SXSW Music keynote speaker.
Photo courtesy Craig O'Neal, flickr.com/36703550@N00

Springsteen Delivering Keynote at SXSW Music

Need another sign South by Southwest Music is underway? 

Bruce Springsteen will give his SXSW keynote speech tomorrow at the Austin Convention Center, noon.  KUT will stream the talk live, and later than night, Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band will perform in Austin via a special ticket drawing.

You can follow KUT’s continuing SXSW coverage on this blog and at kut.org.

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11:29 am
Tue March 6, 2012

Leslie Cochran ‘In Transition’ in Hospice Care

Leslie Cochran as photographed earlier this year.
Photo courtesy Valerie Romness

Leslie Cochran – a homeless, cross-dressing exemplar of Austin weirdness immortalized in countless stories and photos, plus advertisements, refrigerator magnets, and runs for public office – has “chosen to shuffle off this mortal coil,” according to friends overseeing Cochran’s stay in hospice care.

As KUT News previously reported, Cochran was in intensive care after being found unconscious in a South Austin parking lot approximately two-and-a-half weeks ago. He was transferred to an unnamed hospice facility this weekend, KUT noted yesterday.

Local activist Debbie Russell has served as a family spokesperson. In an update this morning, she writes:

He has chosen to shuffle off this mortal coil, and is doing so in grace and dignity, Leslie-style...as he's done all else in life …

He is comfortable in hospice care (where he is in amazing hands), and is in no pain according to the nurses who monitor him often. He has slipped back into semi-consciousness -for the most part- but we believe he hears his loved ones surrounding him.

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3:04 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Leslie Cochran Hospitalized

Leslie Cochran, posing in the foreground, as photographed in 2006.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/chainsawpanda

Contrary to recent reports that transgendered homeless icon Leslie Cochran was moving to Colorado, Leslie is still in Austin. And according to a statement from friends and family, Cochran is currently recuperating in an area hospital.

Local activist Debbie Russell says she is a spokesperson for Cochran and a relative. Russell sent out a release this morning:

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3:23 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Austin Homeless Count Getting Underway This Weekend

The Austin Resource Center for the Homeless is one of few shelters for the city's homeless.
Photo by KUT News

Last year, 2,362 homeless people were counted in the combined Austin–Round Rock area. This Sunday, the 2012 count of Austin’s homeless begins, and count organizers still need volunteers.

The Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) needs people to travel parts of Austin and report the number of homeless, and volunteers to help enter the data they collected.

ECHO describes the work in more detail:

Teams of volunteers will canvas Travis County to count homeless men, women and children in the area to get an accurate sum of the homeless population to help secure federal funding, which provides resources for the county’s homeless service providers. The results of the count will include demographics, reasons for homelessness and trends in homelessness to compare with previous data to assess and improve community performance in preventing and ending homelessness.

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12:45 pm
Sun January 1, 2012

Sunday Roundup for January 1, 2012

Fireworks (and a lot of smoke) filled the air late Saturday, during the fireworks display capping "Austin's New Year" celebration.
Photo by Ian Crawford/KUT News

Happy New Year! A warm start to 2012 brought crowds to Auditorium Shores for ring out the old year, it brought some warm news to Ron Paul's presidential aspirations just ahead of Iowa GOP caucuses and 2012 could bring some warmth to people living on Austin's streets.

Austin Welcomes 2012

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5:36 pm
Sat December 31, 2011

Some Homeless Start 2012 With New Thermal Underwear

House the Homeless gives away thermal underwear each New Year's Day to homeless people living in shelters and in the streets of Austin.
Photo courtesy of House the Homeless.

Austin’s House the Homeless is hoping to keep the homeless warm with its annual Thermal Underwear Drive. On Monday, the non-profit will hand out free thermal underwear to the homeless. Thermals are easier than blankets for homeless people to carry with them.

Richard Troxell, president of House the Homeless, estimates there are about 4,000 homeless people in the Austin metropolitan area.

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1:19 pm
Wed December 14, 2011

Homeless Man Found Dead Prompts Reality Check for Service Providers

72 year old Kevin Hawk had been homeless in Austin for more than four decades before he was found dead last week.
Photo by Erik Reyna, KUT News

A homeless man who lived on the Drag was found dead on the street the same day a Veterans Affairs caseworker went to notify him he was going to get housing, the Austin American-Statesman reports today

72-year-old Kevin Hawk, pictured above, had been homeless for 40 years and was a regular fixture in the area. His art was on display at Tom's Tabooley, according to Andrea Ball’s report in the Statesman.

Hawk had been identified in a study conducted last month to identify who among Austin’s homeless population is most at risk of dying. The 100 Homes Campaign interviewed almost 300 homeless people.

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2:02 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Austin's Homeless Get Help During Cold Snap

Photo by dground http://www.flickr.com/photos/dground/

An emergency program to provide homeless people with a warm place to sleep was activated this week as temperatures plummeted below freezing and shelters approached maximum capacity.

When the weather dips below 32 degrees Fahrenheit – or 35 degrees with extenuating circumstances (extreme wind or rain, for example) – the cold weather shelter system is activated. It was put into effect the last two nights, and will be activated again tonight, with temperatures forecast to drop to 30 degrees.

It all starts with a lottery at 5:15 p.m. today outside the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH), a mens-only shelter at the corner of East Seventh and Neches Streets downtown. Numbers are drawn from a bucket to allocate sleeping spaces inside a local church. The men are transported to the church by Capital Metro bus.

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1:00 pm
Mon December 5, 2011

FrontSteps Activates Cold Weather Plan

The Austin Resource Center for the Homeless will activate their cold weather plan to give people a chance to beat the chill and sleep warm tonight.
Photo by KUT News

Low temperatures tonight in Austin are expected to hover in the mid 30s. Between that and the damp conditions brought on by the weekend's rain, FrontSteps, the group that runs Austin's Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH), will implement their cold weather action plan tonight.

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12:44 pm
Thu November 3, 2011

First Person: Formerly Homeless Veteran

With Veterans Day one week away, we wanted to bring you the story of a veteran who suffered through homelessness. So we sent videographer Jeff Heimsath to interview Jeffery Anderson.

Anderson currently lives in Temple, and he served more than five years of active duty in the United States Army, including two tours in Iraq. But when his wife became ill when pregnant with their fourth child, she needed his help at home.

Anderson says he asked the Army to be placed on rear detachment for three months until the baby was delivered. But he was told to choose his family or the Army.

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4:50 pm
Fri July 22, 2011

1 in 4 Gay and Lesbian Teens are Homeless According to Study

Homelessness is a major problem for sexual minority teens according to a new study. Austin's non-profit organization, LifeWorks, deal with many cases like this.
Photo courtesy of jennfinley at http://flickr.com/people/jennfinley/

One in four gay, lesbian or transgender teens and 15 percent of bisexual teens are homeless, according to a study issued by the American Journal of Public Health. This is in contrast to three percent of heterosexual teens who are homeless. The study was made up of 6,300 Boston, Mass. public high school students.

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