Keep Austin Housed (KAH) affects positive change in the lives of children, youth, and adults who are at-risk of experiencing, currently experiencing, or have formerly experienced homelessness. Members work directly with clients to overcome barriers to housing, employment, and personal stability through case management.
- Maintaining a caseload of clients and meeting in-person with them
- Assessing client needs and developing action plans and goals to meet needs
- Setting housing and employment goals with clients
- Locating resources and referrals for clients to help them meet their needs
- Providing guidance as clients work towards self-sufficiency
- Participating in monthly professional development trainings, biannual team-building retreats, and service projects facilitated by Keep Austin Housed
- Leveraging the support of community volunteers
Community Need Addressed
On January 25, 2015, a point-in-time homeless count was conducted in Austin/Travis County, where Front Steps and Keep Austin Housed are based. Data collected indicates that 1,877 persons were counted and considered homeless. Of those, 64% (1,210 people) were sheltered and 36% (667 people) were unsheltered. (Ending Community Homelessness Coalition, 2015) Various subpopulations make up the homeless population, including individuals with severe mental illness, chronically homeless adults, individuals with chronic substance abuse issues, veterans, and children. Tthe number of people who are homeless is estimated to be much higher than any of the official numbers since the above figures only count the number of people who are 'technically' homeless and excludes people staying temporarily with friends or relatives or people who fly under the radar; sleeping in well-hidden locations, living in their vehicles or in someone's garage, trading sex for a place to sleep, receiving care in emergency rooms or who are admitted to hospitals at the time of the point-in-time count.
In our community, the Housing Authority of the City of Austin reports 8,200 people on the waiting list for 1,929 public housing units and 500 families on the waiting list for the Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) program. The Austin Metropolitan Area has a higher proportion of workers earning poverty-level wages than any comparison city in its size and the highest racial income inequality among comparison cities (Community Action Network). There is a drastic shortage of affordable housing units and a shortage of permanent supportive housing units. (Community Action Network). In addition, employment layoffs have tripled since 2003, paired with a 75% increase in housing costs in the past decade (Eckstein, 2011, p. 10).
The transition from homelessness to housing and personal stability requires meeting emergency needs and providing mid- and long-term resources and supports. According to the Corporation for Supportive Housing, when supportive housing and case management services are provided to people with psychiatric disabilities, people with histories of addiction, formerly homeless people, seniors, families, youth aging out of foster care, individuals leaving correctional facilities and people living with HIV/AIDS - over 80% maintain housing for at least a year, incarceration rates decrease by 50%, ER visits decrease by 50%, emergency detoxification services decrease by 85% , and earned income increases by 50% (Corporation for Supportive Housing).
An AmeriCorps State program, Keep Austin Housed (KAH) is a collaborative of 10 nonprofit agencies in Austin that provide services to the full range of homeless subpopulations; families with children, people with mental health and substance abuse issues, domestic violence survivors, adults with disabilities, veterans, immigrants, unaccompanied minors, the elderly, and chronically homeless adults. AmeriCorps members serve as Case Management Aides within their placement agencies. Activities include assessing client needs, developing action plans and goals with clients, and providing resources and support for clients as they work toward achieving their goals. Case Management has functioned as the cornerstone of efforts to serve homeless individuals in our community for nearly two decades.
The KAH collaborative has developed 35 full-time AmeriCorps positions to best meet the specific needs of homeless clients in our community. Members provide intensive case management, support, and mentoring at agencies that serve the homeless, formerly homeless, and people at risk of becoming homeless. Specific activities include assistance with locating, applying for, and moving into safe, sustainable housing, job searching, building life skills, applying for state and federal benefits programs, budgeting, referrals to other social services agencies, and more. The goal of the program is to increase the number of people who acquire and maintain housing and improve their self-sufficiency.
- 350 clients will receive services supporting goals to move into safe, sustainable housing
- 210 clients obtain/maintain safe, sustainable housing
- 200 clients will receive services supporting goals to obtain/maintain employment
- 111 clients obtain/maintain employment
Childcare assistance if eligible, Education award upon successful completion of service, Health coverage, Stipend, Student loan forbearance, Training
Skills you will gain
Professional social work and case management strategies (assessing and prioritizing client needs, developing action plans and goals); knowledge of barriers to obtaining housing; building rapport and trust with vulnerable populations; knowledge of community resources; training in motivational interviewing, working with individuals who have experienced trauma, working with individuals with mental health and/or substance abuse issues; knowledge of local, state, and federal issues surrounding homelessness
Competencies You Will Develop
Demonstrate sensitivity and empathy, Lead group discussion, Listen to and consider others' viewpoints, Maintain open lines of communication with others, Speak clearly, in precise language and in a logical, organized and coherent manner
Creativity & Problem Solving
Able to identify and define the problem, Capable of generating possible solutions, Communicate the problem to appropriate personnel, Improvise, Provide relevant expertise, Select and implement well-considered solution
Develop constructive working relationships and maintain them over time, Establish a high degree of trust and credibility with others, Interact professionally and respectfully with supervisors and co-workers, Stay positive and outcome oriented, Use appropriate strategies and solutions for dealing with conflicts and differences to maintain a smooth workflow
Accepts responsibility, Anticipate the consequences of decisions, Identify and prioritize the key issues involved to facilitate the decision making process, Involve people appropriately in decisions that may impact them, Quickly respond with a back-up plan if a decision goes amiss
Carefully consider which tools or technological solutions are appropriate for a given job, Consistently choose the best tool or technological solution for the problem at hand
Able to prioritize various competing tasks, Create environment of contribution, Create plan of action, schedule tasks so that work is completed on time, Demonstrate the effective allocation of time and resources efficiently, Drive decision making, Effectively delegate tasks, Set goals
Be pleasant, courteous, professional and respectful when dealing with internal and external customers or clients, Evaluate customer or client satisfaction, Honor the privilege of being able to work with and for those being served, Provide personalized, prompt, and efficient service to meet the requirements, requests and needs of customers, Recognize the importance of maintaining privacy and confidentiality of those being served, Understand and anticipate the needs of others, Understand the importance of one's role in the functioning of the organization, Understand the significance of maintaining a healthful and safe environment