How Can Local Schools and Universities Help Combat Homelessness in Travis County, Texas?

Texas school districts and charter schools are legally obligated to designate a homeless liaison to identify, enroll, and ensure the stability, attendance, and academic success of homeless students. According to a University of Texas researcher, the Lone Star State is second only to Nebraska in terms of the amount of money allocated for housing. Mobile Loaves & Fishes is spearheading a collaborative effort to tackle homelessness in Austin. As the population of Central Texas has grown, so has the number of homeless people. Ending homelessness in Austin is achievable if enough stakeholders—government, businesses, nonprofits, neighborhoods, schools, churches, and individuals—work together.

Young people can become homeless when they leave the foster care system or when their families reject them (the Trevor Project estimates that 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQIA+).In addition to research and consulting efforts, teachers at the University of Texas have created community-based learning opportunities that help students apply classroom concepts to improve their community's quality of life. A group of researchers from Austin studied homelessness at the local level, which coincides with national studies on the subject. However, the economic impact of COVID-19 could cause an even greater increase in homelessness. Students enrolled in Dynamics of Organizations and Communities toured areas outside ECHO's usual geographic area for spot counting (PIT) to identify homeless encampments that ECHO doesn't yet know about. Although the building was largely dependent on funding provided by the state, a report prepared by researchers and policy experts at the University of Texas shows that Texas spends less than most states on housing, only behind Nebraska.

KXAN is investigating what is being done in the legislature this year to provide relief, what policy experts say legislators should focus on, and how Travis County is using federal funds to make a difference.

Bradford Fazzi
Bradford Fazzi

Professional tv fanatic. Award-winning bacon junkie. Evil music expert. Lifelong food ninja. Amateur social media geek.

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