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Ending Community Homelessness Coalition
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See the new ECHO website at www.austinecho.org and get involved!

Counting in the COLD

The annual Count of the homeless population across the 1000 square miles we know as Travis County is upon us.  Today and tonight, Friday – Saturday, 250+ volunteers will scour the community counting the unsheltered population… and it promises to be winter cold.  Hopefully any freezing precipitation will be gone by the afternoon, so for now, the COUNT is on!  All  volunteers – we need you! Please dress warm and fulfill your commitment to COUNT!  No wimping out!  Shifts begin at 3pm on Friday, and last thru Saturday morning.  This year, HUD requires us to ask 5 questions of everyone we count… so it promises to be interesting!  The last training is Friday from 11am – 1pm at UT School of Social Work. For more info, contact Ann at 512-963-7630.


ECHO Staff: Tina, Niki, Richard, Kameron (Marshall Jones, Board Chair) & Ann
 

HUD Asst. Secretary visits ECHO

With short notice last Thursday, ECHO hosted Mark Johnston, who is the Asst. Sec. responsible for all the HUD funding that addresses homelessness, including our COC funds.  Susan McDowell, Life Works Exec. Dir. and ECHO Membership Council Vice-chair gave Mark a preview of the new apartments, The Works that were dedicated and open to residents the next day.  He also saw PSH run by Green Doors and Front Steps.  He underscored the importance of coordinated assessment, permanent housing and focusing on ending homelessness for families, veterans and the chronically homeless.
Housing is attainable! In 2013, 1,309 formerly homeless people were housed by our member non-profits.  That's a big number, that's significant knowing the high occupancy rate in Austin.  A key focus this year is to support case managers in their search for apartments for clients.  To get involved, contact Melissa Orren at morren@caritasofaustin.org  Participants meet monthly to pool information in hopes of housing the hardest to house.  ECHO is developing a "members only" list of notes about properties willing to work with us to end homelessness.

 
 
 

State of the Coalition   by Ann Howard

ECHO starts the year with a bang saying good bye and hello to trusted and new staff!  ECHO is proud to announce growth and depth in new staff that promises to serve our members and this community well on the quest to end homelessness. Our new position is a Director of Strategic Initiatives, filled by Kameron Fowler.   Kameron’s leadership (with a background in case management, supportive housing and program management) will help our community implement the recommendations approved in December by the ECHO Membership Council to promote housing stability for clients by improving our housing “system.”  These recommendations, which leverage a HUD requirement with a local desire to house more people more quickly and save money along the way, include multiple but limited front doors, coordinated access, diversion, open/shared data, client prioritization and case management specialization. To participate in this work, please get involved with ECHO workgroups by contacting Kameron at kameronfowler@austinecho.org.

Renaming the ECHO Program Manager to ECHO Operations Manager, we hired Niki Paul to oversee coalition communications and operations.  Niki’s background in executive management and program operations lends beautifully to this work and promises to advance ECHO to the next level.  If you have questions about membership, HUD programs or volunteering with ECHO, please contact Niki at nikipaul@austinecho.org

Tina Griego is the new HMIS Trainer.  Tina will be out in the community assisting HMIS users with specific applications and getting an upclose view of questions and stumbling blocks in order to improve training.  Tina comes to us as licensed user of Service Point, so she hits the ground running and ready!  We are proud that Tina serves our country in the Texas National Guard. So, don’t be surprised if she comes to visit wearing Army fatigues.   Lucky for us, her mentor now is Richard Dodson, who serves as the HMIS Administrator.  Richard began his work with HMIS nearly 4 years ago as the first HMIS trainer.  We are grateful for his steady hand on the keyboard.  Please read more about ECHO staff at http://austinecho.org/leadership/staff/

2013 marked the leaving of longtime consultant and 2 year staff member Jessie Aric.  Jessie accepted a call to work for the Dept. of State Health Services directing a program called Money Follows the Person.  With much admiration and appreciation, we wish Jessie the best and thank her for her years of ECHO stewardship.  Garrett Olin, Director of HMIS also answered a call to join his wife in touring South America for the next year or so.  They own a travel company (Go Mo Places) and will be evaluating vendors and seeking new destinations. Garrett’s work propelled HMIS to be a true community resource and we appreciate his short time with us. Earlier in the fall, HMIS trainer Sophia Checa began work with the Texas Homeless Network to foster development of coordinated assessment around the state.  We know she does good work and will help communities who lack many of the resources we have in Travis County.

ECHO appreciates from where we have come, and looks forward to much progress with your help in the coming months.  Get involved!
End homelessness!
 
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