Austin homelessness coalition releases results from annual Point in Time Count

Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) released the results of its Point in Time (PIT) Count. That's when they get an estimate of the number of people experiencing homelessness in the Austin-Travis County area.

The PIT Count happened in the early morning hours on a day in late January. Over 700 volunteers counted people and asked them about their demographics.

2,374 people experiencing homelessness were counted, including both sheltered and unsheltered individuals.

This is the first time the PIT Count has been done since 2020 due to the pandemic.

"The number of people identified as experiencing homelessness over the years has been incrementally steadily increasing," Claire Burrus, research and evaluation manager with ECHO, said.

PIT Count is required by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to get funding.

"In 2023, our volunteers counted a greater number of unsheltered individuals in Point in Time Count sections further from the downtown core of Austin," Burrus said.

However, there are limitations to the count. It doesn't include people in hard-to-reach places or hospitals and jails. The weather can also play a role. ECHO uses supplementary data from the jail and database numbers.

"The PIT Count doesn't capture the transitory nature of homelessness," Akram Al-Turk, research and evaluation director with ECHO, said. "There may be many people who are experiencing homelessness on that night that were not counted by volunteers."

Many Austinites have told FOX 7 about their concerns with homeless communities.


"I think the correlation between safety and public safety and homelessness is one that we don't have data to support," Matt Mollica, executive director of ECHO, said. "One thing that we can do that I can guarantee would help to support both business owners and folks in the residential community, their concerns around homelessness, is to build more housing for people experiencing homelessness that we can move folks into and provide more spaces for people to go. I think if I were a member of the business community, and I was focused on strategies and desire to end homelessness in our community or reduce unsheltered homelessness, I would be talking to policymakers about access to quality affordable housing."

ECHO says they've gotten more people into permanent supportive housing in 2022 than in any other year. They're also in the process of adding more permanent supportive housing units.

For ECHO's full presentation on the PIT Count, click here.