ATX Helps was created to fill gaps in the spectrum of services available to people in Austin who are experiencing homelessness. This group is part of the solution along with other efforts.
Groups across the city and state like Mobile Loaves and Fishes and the Salvation Army provide powerful support to people who need help, including efforts around the worthy goal of permanent supportive housing.
Even with all those efforts, there is a real gap in emergency shelter, outreach and storage that people need when they are forced to live on the street. Those services, covering immediate and critical needs, are the focus of ATX Helps.
As Austinites, the business community is stepping up to do its part to help those experiencing homelessness. Driven by the Austin Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Austin Alliance—as well as a number of other businesses, nonprofit entities, faith-based organizations, and individuals—ATX Helps has united these groups in their commitment to help people in incredibly difficult, distressing circumstances.
ATX Helps is committed to raising $14 million, with a focus on private-sector resources, to pay for the construction and operation of a Sprung shelter. The facility will provide immediate housing and other necessities for unsheltered Austinites living on the streets.
We believe our city is fundamentally kind and generous, and that Austinites want to be part of the many solutions that are needed to solve homelessness. Everything we have seen since the launch of ATX Helps validates that faith.
ATX Helps is currently being driven entirely by volunteers, with a primary focus on raising money. As the group takes shape, its leaders and founders will consider bringing on full-time staff.
For now, the focus is on raising money to quickly construct emergency shelter, storage and access to services for people who need them.
People experiencing homelessness have a spectrum of needs, and permanent supportive housing is a vital part of that spectrum. It’s also the focus of the City of Austin’s response to this challenge. However, creating such housing takes time, and it can be expensive—the City Council recently voted to spend $8 million to buy a motel with just 82 units for people in need of housing. Austin’s homeless population is in the thousands, and many of these people are in dire need of emergency shelter and services right now. That immediate need is the focus of ATX Helps, and it perfectly complements more permanent solutions.
ATX Helps is being driven entirely by the private sector—organizations, businesses and individuals who see a tragic situation affecting thousands of their neighbors and want to do something about it.
ATX Helps will work with the Mayor and City Council, Governor and State of Texas, and anyone else who is serious about finding effective solutions to this challenge. We all need to come together as a community, set aside politics, and fill gaps in ways that help people who need it and reflect the best of our community.
Since long before the recent flurry of news around homelessness, the status quo was failing those experiencing homelessness and the community generally. The status quo that was not working then will not work now. Our focus is on delivering real solutions that actually help people experiencing homelessness and improve the situation.
Permanent supportive housing is vital, but it is not always immediately available when people are confronted with the emergency of homelessness. They need a place to go, right then, where they will be safe and can begin to get back on their feet.
The shelter ATX Helps will create will provide for people’s urgent needs, help them stay off the street and out of danger, connect them with needed services, and help them move through the continuum of homelessness services that leads to long-term housing options.