AUSTIN (KXAN) — The number of people who are chronically homeless in Austin-Travis County decreased by 28 percent this year, the annual count of people experiencing homelessness revealed.
Even with the sizable reduction of the chronically homeless population — from 736 in 2016 to 553 this year — the number of adults with a substance use disorder jumped up 84 percent to 345 people. The total number of homeless people counted this year — 2,036 — is slightly down from the 2,138 recorded last year.
The count, which took place between 2 and 9 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 18, involved more than 500 volunteers counting the number of children, families and adults who are homeless. The “Point in Time Count” is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for any community getting HUD funding, a statement from the city of Austin said.
While the count is used to help understand the progress in ending community homelessness, officials say they know at least 7,000 people experience homeless over the course of a year in Travis County.
On a given night, 472 people sleep at the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (the ARCH) and the Salvation Army shelters while 178 people sleep in surrounding streets, for a total of 650 people waking up homeless each day in a concentrated area downtown.
The city says the decrease in chronic homelessness can be traced to the community prioritizing getting the most vulnerable, including people with disabilities, off the streets.