You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Austin wins Bloomberg grant to aid homeless outreach


Highlights

The grant is worth $1.5 million over three years.

It will go toward hiring four or five people to improve the city’s ability to collect, analyze and share data.

Austin won a grant potentially worth $1.5 million over three years from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s charity to bolster the efforts to reduce homelessness downtown, City Hall announced Wednesday.

Officials said the money will go toward hiring four or five people to improve the city’s ability to collect, analyze and share data about its homeless population in a bid to improve services to those residents. It will also aim to improve communication and the flow of information between city agencies and charities, such as the downtown Austin Resource Center for the Homeless shelter and the Salvation Army.

An estimated 7,100 people were homeless in Austin in 2016, a number that was roughly on par with the 2015 figure, according to counts kept by the homeless advocacy group, Ending Community Homelessness Coalition, better known as Austin ECHO. However, that count is up significantly from the estimated 6,100 homeless people in 2014.

“This grant will help us tackle problems in new ways that reflect who we are in Austin, and I’m excited to see what can come from this,” Mayor Steve Adler said in a statement.

The new data and collection team will be linked up with the city’s Homelessness Outreach Street Team, another high-profile effort launched by city and county leaders in 2016 to better address downtown homelessness.

The Bloomberg Philanthropies grant comes just months after the federal government certified that Austin has functionally ended veteran homelessness in the city. The designation means the city has established a system to ensure there is sufficient housing for veterans and that future periods of vet homelessness are brief and rare.

A coalition of nonprofits and agencies also recently announced they exceeded their goal to house 50 homeless youths over the course of a 100-day challenge, the first milestone in an effort to end youth homelessness in Austin.

The new Bloomberg-funded “innovation team” will help the police officers, paramedics, counselors and social workers involved with the Outreach Team — but by working on their spreadsheets, not the streets.

“The police officers’ job is not to fix their data problem, but they need the data to better do their job,” said Kerry O’Connor, who has been the city’s chief innovation officer since March 2014. “So we’re giving them the support they need to be effective.”

Currently, she said, the police, paramedics and social workers all use different computer systems that struggle to talk with each other, making it more difficult to track the needs of those who are homeless and match them up with the right assistance.

This team will aim to break down those walls and use the newly available data to identify “holes” in the city’s network of social services and charities that homeless people slip through.

“This is one tiny sliver of a much larger program,” O’Conner said. “We always want to be conscious that this isn’t the end-all and be-all of homelessness.”

Other cities receiving a similar Bloomberg grant Thursday to tackle local problems include Anchorage, Alaska, Baltimore, Detroit and Durham, N.C., as well as Be’er Sheva, Israel and Toronto, Canada.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Politics

Lawmakers wary of Russia's ability to plant dirt, fake evidence on their computers
Lawmakers wary of Russia's ability to plant dirt, fake evidence on their computers

In a brief and largely overlooked exchange between Sen. Marco Rubio and America's top spy during a January hearing about Russia's alleged election meddling, the Florida Republican sketched out what he fears could be the next front in the hidden wars of cyberspace.  Could Russian hackers, Rubio asked then-Director of National Intelligence James...
Can Democrats force Republicans' hands on Trump's tax returns? 
Can Democrats force Republicans' hands on Trump's tax returns? 

House Democrats want to force Republicans' hands on President Donald Trump's tax returns — but it remains to be seen how effective posturing can be for the minority.  House Democrats plan to have Massachusetts Rep. Katherine M. Clark introduce legislation requiring Trump to release his tax returns from 2007 to 2016, according to The Washington...
Trump tax plan would shift trillions from U.S. coffers to rich’s pockets
Trump tax plan would shift trillions from U.S. coffers to rich’s pockets

President Donald Trump’s proposal to slash individual and business taxes and erase a surtax that funds the Affordable Care Act would amount to a multi-trillion-dollar shift from federal coffers to America’s richest families and their heirs, setting up a politically fraught battle over how best to use the government’s already strained...
Last-minute GOP push on health care threatens government spending deal
Last-minute GOP push on health care threatens government spending deal

A last-minute push to revive a Republican plan to rewrite the nation's health-care law is threatening to derail a bipartisan deal to avoid a government shutdown.   Under pressure from the White House, House Republican leaders appeared to be gauging support for a vote on health care as early as Friday. The move alarmed key Democrats, who said...
Has the 9th Circuit gone ‘bananas’? And can Trump break it up?
Has the 9th Circuit gone ‘bananas’? And can Trump break it up?

President Donald Trump, angry about a judge's decision to temporarily block enforcement of his order against "sanctuary" cities, has called for breaking up the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.  Never mind that the sanctuary city ruling came from a trial judge on the district court bench in San Francisco — not the 9th Circuit...
More Stories