Our Client Services and COVID-19

There is nothing more important than the health of Front Steps’ clients, staff, volunteers, and their families. That is our priority, and we are working with experts from across the health and human services community to address issues related to COVID-19 as we provide essential services. Working with CommUnity Care Clinic and UT Austin’s Dell Medical School, we are offering frequent testing for clients and staff. As long as there is a threat of COVID-19 transmission, Front Steps will maintain specific precautions to protect all of our clients and staff. Please know that these temporary measures help safeguard the health of everyone.

Front Steps is an essential service, and we have maintained shelter services for our case managed clients 24/7–we are where many Austinites “shelter in place.”

We are continuing to house clients throughout these months of COVID challenges–housing a client is one of the best ways to improve health outcomes.

The City of Austin maintains a frequently updated website about homelessness services and COVID-19 issues.

PLEASE, TAKE A MOMENT TO CONFIRM ANY HOURS, SERVICES, OR RESOURCES MENTIONED ON THIS WEBSITE. FRONT STEPS AND OUR MANY PARTNERS IN THIS WORK ARE CONTENDING WITH COVID-19 CHALLENGES TO SERVICE DELIVERY. THE EXTRA STEP OF DOUBLE CHECKING AVAILABILITY OF SERVICES IS WORTH THE TIME TO MINIMIZE FRUSTRATION.

If you are experiencing homelessness, and you think you have COVID, or have been exposed, or are high risk.

The symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, fever, and shortness of breath. If you are sick or have been around someone who is sick, the City of Austin has set up locations where you can recover or avoid spreading the virus to others. Call 512-978-8775 to start the process of connecting to these resources. You can also call the nurse line at 512-972-5560 for advice and testing information.

Information on available services at Front Steps or any nonprofit or agency changes regularly, and we recommend that anyone seeking assistance make calls/check online to verify hours, locations, and options. Find out how your normal providers are operating and learn about new ways you can get help during this time.

  • Front Steps’ existing clients continue to work with their case managers.
  • Day Services at the shelter have been reduced—mail pick up/access to storage schedule information is available at the door.
  • Volunteer and Community Service shifts are all suspended until further notice.
  • ALL staff and clients inside the Shelter at 7th and Neches and our other offices are required to wear masks and promote social distancing. We are doing temperature checks and asking about symptoms for all entry to the downtown shelter.

COVID-19 has changed how everyone in Austin gets food. With more restaurants closing and fewer people handing out donations, finding reliable sources of food was a challenge. In the first weeks of March, there were changes in many existing nonprofit food delivery practices that served individuals experiencing homelessness. Volunteer shifts, food prep/services, and access to buildings was reviewed at many sites—and this led to disruptions in meal provision. The City of Austin rapidly launched EAT (Eat Apart Together) working with nonprofit partners to get food to people experiencing homelessness. Thousands of bags of shelf stable groceries and ready-to-eat meals are distributed weekly, more information on EAT is available here. Front Steps continues to provide dinner for clients sleeping in the shelter.

Front Steps is accepting donations of certain COVID-related items we need. Masks (all kinds, including handmade), anti-bacterial wipes, hand sanitizer, and disposable gloves are appreciated. We provide these items to clients inside and outside the shelter, and it is not always easy for us to maintain stock. We also accept donations of cases of bottled water—closures of libraries and downtown businesses have severely reduced the number of places where clients can get a drink of water. We chill the bottles and hand them out to clients inside and outside the shelter. Questions about donations OF THESE ITEMS may be emailed to aprice@frontsteps.org.