You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

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


Welcome to

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

Austin wins Bloomberg grant to aid homeless outreach


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

Sick Vietnam vets blame exposure to Agent Orange, but VA won't pay
Sick Vietnam vets blame exposure to Agent Orange, but VA won't pay

Sam Genco, at age 19, narrowly survived one of the United States' worst military aircraft carrier fires. Today, 50 years later, it's that ship's drinking water he says could be killing him. Genco was diagnosed last year at a North Carolina veterans' clinic with ischemic heart disease — a common condition the federal government says is linked...
First, a word from our A-list podcasters
First, a word from our A-list podcasters

Katie Couric gets a great night’s sleep on the Casper mattress she and her husband, John Molner, share, and sipping Dunkin’ Donuts coconut coffee makes her feel as if she is vacationing in the islands. At holiday time, Couric is thrilled to receive a package of Omaha Steaks as a gift. Listeners of “Katie Couric,” Couric&rsquo...
Study: U.S. may not need a wall to keep immigrants out
Study: U.S. may not need a wall to keep immigrants out

The White House is already moving forward with its plan to construct a massive wall along the southern border of the country. But new research suggests the influx of low-skilled immigrants is already dropping, as forces that are far more powerful than a wall act to keep immigrants out. In a new paper, economists at the University of California San...
What David Rockefeller wanted built got built
What David Rockefeller wanted built got built

David and Nelson were not just the names of two Rockefeller brothers. They were the names of the twin towers at the World Trade Center. More accurately, they were nicknames given to the towers — David, because David Rockefeller, as chairman of the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association, originated the idea; Nelson, because Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller...
GOP, unified against Obama, struggles for consensus under Trump
GOP, unified against Obama, struggles for consensus under Trump

Whenever a major conservative plan in Washington has collapsed, blame has usually been fairly easy to pin on the Republican hard-liners who insist on purity over practicality. But as Republicans sifted through the detritus of their failed effort to replace the Affordable Care Act, they were finding fault almost everywhere they looked. President Donald...
More Stories