In the City of Austin, homelessness is a persistent reality that has amounted to a humanitarian challenge. Lack of affordable housing and healthcare, trauma and abuse, and racial inequities are all leading causes of homelessness in Austin. An estimated 9,000 residents in the Austin/Travis County area experience homelessness each year, with Black Austinites, disproportionately represented in the homeless population. Since 2018, ending homelessness has been the top priority of city leaders in Austin, and in spring 2021, city leaders facilitated the first Summit to Address Unsheltered Homelessness in Austin – which brought together diverse voices from across the community to tackle the crisis of homelessness that Austin faces. The summit’s purpose was to develop an implementation strategy to effectively and significantly reduce unsheltered homelessness in the city. This will include building a better system, scaling Austin’s homelessness response system to become a rehousing system that improves equitable access and outcomes for anyone experiencing homelessness.
In the next three years, local leaders are dedicated to improving service provider capacity and responsiveness, ensuring the outreach efforts of providers are culturally responsive and informed by those with actual lived experience of homelessness. Austin will partner with FUSE Corps to lead meaningful organizational capacity building within a portfolio of homelessness service providers selected from this solicitation process. The FUSE Executive Fellow will support the selected portfolio of service providers in reaching their outlined goals and set up a city-wide learning community of these providers, determining overarching capacity-building tools and extracting case studies of successful providers. By 2023, critical homelessness service providers in the city will have the strength and capacity to support those experiencing homelessness at scale, ensuring the city will reach the goal of making homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring in Austin.