AUSTIN (KXAN) — Efforts are ongoing to move people off the streets into housing, but is it working?
Over the past six months, Jamie Hammonds has made it his mission to document the places where homeless camps are popping up in Austin. He founded a group called Documenting the Streets and the Homeless of Austin (DASH).
Although DASH is not affiliated with the city of Austin, Hammonds hopes to raise awareness of what he sees during his walks.
“Raising awareness is an important part of trying to help these people,” he said.
Hammonds has mapped out dozens of camps and hopes the city will do more to help the homeless in the future.
“I think with what they have to work with right now, they are trying to get people off the streets,” Hammonds said. “I don’t think they do a great job with it.”
Dianna Gray, a homeless strategist in Austin, said there are about 4,600 homeless people in Austin. She said that about 1,000 people were in shelters and about 3,600 were without shelter. Gray said the city is making progress against homelessness.
“When our staff goes to camp and can offer people access to shelter, so far 87% say yes when there is a link to permanent housing,” Gray said.
She said one issue is the number of housing units available, but hopes they will have more options in the coming years.
Non-profit organizations also play a role in helping the homeless, and the city has been in operation since about 40.
“There are 20 organizations that we have service contracts with, and about 20 more that we are really working on to develop them and take them to a place of growth,” Gray said.
Anthony Jackson of We Can Now has been working over the past few years to connect the homeless with resources.
Jackson said relationships with other nonprofits and the city are key to future success.
“There are other organizations that may offer other services, so if you partner with them or contact them, it means you have more to offer,” Jackson said.
We Can Now recently placed several families in the accommodation, but there are problems. Jackson said some of the people he works with end up on the streets after getting housing.
Substance abuse and mental health are just a few of the reasons why they don’t stay in housing, Jackson said.
“That’s why it’s important to have a street team that’s on the streets when they get back,” Jackson said. “You’re still looking at them and you can offer them resources.”
Jackson said there was a lot of work to be done, but if relationships between other nonprofits and the city continued, he said there would be a lot of progress.