Front Steps discusses Austin's homelessness situation
WHY IT EXISTS AND HOW TO END IT
by Paige Atkinson
LISTEN: Hannah Ford, Communications Coordinator, Front Steps
There are 1877 homeless individuals living in Austin as of January 2015, according to the Homeless Management Information System. Organizations like Front Steps work towards homing the homeless and providing case management services to provide jobs and basic needs of homeless adults.
Despite a low unemployment rate in Austin, individuals are still having trouble affording housing in the area says Hannah Ford, communications coordinator at Front Steps. The Bureau of Labor Statistics published the most recent unemployment rate as 3.2%, which is lower than the state and national average.
Ford Argues that individuals making the minimum wage of $7.25 are not making a living wage, enough to support himself or herself or a family.
“The cost of living here in Austin is extremely high and affordable housing is at a minimum,” Ford said. “What’s even worse than that is the lack of housing first housing.”
The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness sponsors the “housing first” concept, which ideally places homeless individuals and families into homes as the foundation for other support and services that follow, according to the council’s website.
Many Austin property managers refuse housing to homeless individuals because of their troubled pasts involving drug abuse or mental illness, Ford said. Austin Mayor, Steve Adler showed his commitment to ending homelessness in his state of the city address last month.
“I will support creating a Landlord Incentive Fund and promoting the Austin Good Landlord Program to reward and acknowledge landlords for housing the formerly homeless,” Adler said in his speech.