Are the City of Austin's efforts to house the homeless working?

According to a recent study done by the Downtown Austin Alliance, the number of people living on the street in their public improvement district of downtown decreased by 55 percent between May and October.

"It's an area that covers roughly MLK, to the river. It takes up some area across the river, I-35 frontage road to Guadalupe and San Antonio streets," said Bill Brice, vice-president of investor relations, Downtown Austin Alliance.

The count estimates there are now 365 people, compared to 813 back in May.

"Many of the people were moved into temporary housing, some permanent housing, and much of that happened with the city's implementation of the HEAL Initiative," said Brice.

The HEAL Initiative took off earlier this year, with council members speaking on the success of the program which identified large and unsafe encampments to clear out and move people.

"Those individuals who were in those encampments are now stable housed those who, who accepted the offer of housing, and just nearly all of them did. They're receiving the kinds of services and support that will help them be successful in that housing," said Austin City Council member Kathie Tovo on Oct. 12.

The city also began enforcing Proposition B after it passed in May. Before doing their own count, the DAA relied on ECHO's annual point in time count, in which they would sometimes get they were looking for and other times not.

"We've just never had a consistent accurate gage of just how many people are living unsheltered in the downtown public improvement district which we manage," said Brice.

Although the numbers are looking better, Brice remains cautiously optimistic, and stresses there is still much work to do.

"Many of the people who moved from downtown have not landed in a shelter or permanent housing. We need more places where people can be sheltered until they can be housed," said Brice.

This count was also created as a direct result of Austin city leaders and nonprofits coming together for a homelessness summit this past spring.

Austin leaders say the way to end homelessness is to provide housing
Austin leaders hold homelessness summit to give update on progress
Austin’s homeless left with nowhere to go amid camping crackdown
City of Austin releases 21-page audit on 2019-21 homeless spending
SUBSCRIBE: Daily Newsletter | YouTube
FOLLOW: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter