Ending Community Homelessness Coalition

State of the Coalition

by Ann Howard

Austin was well represented at the National Alliance to End Homelessness conference last month in Washington, D.C. If you have not attended before, I encourage you to do so next July. Sessions are rich with creative and successful strategies that left me feeling like we are surrounded by states, staff and volunteers committed to doing the hard work to end homeless. Moreover, I realized that we have some of the very best people working right here in Austin to do the same, and the strategies we are implementing here are the ones working around the country. My hat goes off to each ECHO volunteer, to our workgroups, our Membership Council and our Coordinated Assessment Steering Committee who log the hours planning for change so we can improve. In the coming months we will share more of this work about coordinated assessment, diversion techniques to problem solve with clients before they enter the system, prioritizing clients for housing, community staffing for Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) and case management specialization. Each topic is complicated, but we are confident that by working together we can make a profound impact on homelessness in our community. Lastly, we learned that HUD has awarded our CoC with planning dollars that will support ECHO's work as the lead agency. We are grateful for this federal support and the many years of local planning that made us deserving of the award.

Medical Access Program (MAP)

The MAP eligibility office located at the Salvation Army will close effective August 5, 2013. The MAP eligibility office previously located at 110 Chalmers has moved to 1213 N. IH 35 (IH 35 & 13th Street). Central Health will be more than glad to assist the homeless population at their new IH 35 location.


ECHO staff and volunteers conducted a "pulse" count of the unsheltered homeless population on July 27, 2013. The area counted was bounded by the 183 on the north and 45th Street on the south with IH 35 on the east and Burnet Ave on the west. The area was chosen to see if the number of homeless had significantly increased as a news story earlier in the year had indicated.

The pulse teams counted 60 homeless individuals during the three hour period. The number was consistent with the prior point-in-time (PIT) count numbers of 54 and 55 for 2012 and 2013 respectively. T
he full 2013 PIT results report is available on our website.

The SSI/SSDI application process is complicated and difficult to navigate, particularly for people who are homeless, yet accessing these income and health care benefits is often a critical first step on the road to recovery. Thanks to technical assistance from SAMHSA, we've been able to train more than 50 case managers in the SOAR process, which greatly increases the likelihood of application approval. We're pleased to announce that several first-time SSI/SSDI applicants have been approved for benefits! Get Involved! The next SOAR Steering Committee meeting is Sept. 16th from 1-2:30 pm at ECHO. Lourdes Flores of TRLA will facilitate a presentation on giving testimony at hearings. Please feel free to attend!

Save The Date: Mental Health First Aid Training for Landlords - September 20th and 27th from 10 am to 3 pm at ATCIC in the Large Training Room.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a groundbreaking public education program that helps the public identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. This training is offered in the form that presents an overview of mental illness and substance use disorders in the U.S. and introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact, and overviews common treatments. Learn how to:
  • Access mental health resources for your tenants
  • Approach tenants with mental health challenges
  • Handle emergencies 
The cost is $20 for this 10 hour training, which is valued at $100! Lunch is provided. Please register by visiting For more information, please contact Dawn Perkins Buhler at

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