Keep Austin Housed and AmeriCorps

Keep Austin Housed and AmeriCorps

We believe in…

We believe in bringing together persons of all ages and backgrounds to address the issues of homelessness and contribute to a community that is healthy, educated, safe, and self-sustaining.

We believe AmeriCorps Works for Texas!

AmeriCorps is an effective private-public partnership. Grants from The Corporation for National and Community Service, are used by schools, non-profits, faith-based groups, and others to strengthen communities across the nation.

Keep Austin Housed places 35 full-time Americorps members at ten different non-profits in Austin, Texas, where they work directly with individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless. Keep Austin Housed members help more than 250 individuals obtain safe, stable, and affordable housing each year. We work for Austin, and we want you to be a part of it!

We believe YOU can build community, while building your career.

  • Enhance service delivery of local agencies
  • Learn valuable professional skills
  • Empower clients who are experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness
  • Make connections with employers and universities
  • Educate the community-at-large on issues related to homelessness
  • Make lifelong friendships and connections

Quick Facts

  • KAH has served the Austin Community since 2003
  • KAH is the ONLY AmeriCorps program in Texas focused solely on homelessness
  • KAH is a program of Front Steps
  • We have 30 full-time members who all serve 11-month service terms (09/03/2020 – 07/31/2021)
  • We work with 11 non-profits in Austin.

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Keep Austin Housed/AmeriCorps Success Story: Kay

In Kay’s Words:

Although we are not “supposed” to have favorite clients, it is true that some interactions will impact us more than others. One client I had the pleasure of getting to know was a Kay, a young mother who was experiencing homelessness with her middle school age son. They had been living out of her car. Her son would stay with her in the car sometimes, but was able to stay with extended family most nights. This separation was really difficult on both mother and son emotionally. The client was working within the gig economy to pay her expenses and to save up for an apartment. But, understandably whenever she could save enough money she would treat her and her son to a few nights in a hotel where they could shower, rest, and be together. The ultimate goal was to save enough for an affordable apartment but she never was able to save up enough to overcome the barriers of high move in costs and first month’s rent. The client found herself in this trap of low income and lack of housing after a rough divorce triggered her clinical depression. This depression kept her out of work and inevitably led to an eviction. At the time, she was uninsured and did not have the resources available to treat her depression. It continued to get worse with the loss of her housing stability.

With the help of Goodwill Career Case Management, she began a career training course while living out of her car and was immediately referred to the BSS+ Housing Assistance Program. At this point of her journey is when I met the client. She was quiet at first but was extremely determined and proactive in her housing search. Before I even enrolled her in the program she was in contact with an apartment complex she was interested in.

She just needed the assistance of a program advocating for her long-term stability and the financial assistance to get her there. The BSS+ program was able to pay for the client’s application fee, deposit costs, admin fees, pro-rated rent, and a few more months of rental assistance to get her back on her feet. I had the honor of facilitating this and being her housing case manager. We met often to discuss these payments and her long-term housing stability and budget plans.

She now lives in an apartment with her son that she can afford on her own. The mother and son duo are happy to be living together again, and her son even has his own bedroom in their apartment now. The client has found purpose in her work and has obtained health insurance that allows her to get all the medication she needs for her depression and covers her therapy visits. In our last meeting when we were exiting her from the program she opened up to me about her long-term aspirations of owning a home, her plan to be a mental health advocate starting in her family, and to keep saving her money for a time when something may go wrong again. She was grateful to the program and let me know she would never forget the time we shared together and the long conversations that we had. One thing I know for sure is that I will never forget her either.

Goals for the Year from Keep Austin Housed/AmeriCorps Placements:

“Prepare for this year long experience to change you…for the better”

“Let your heart break over the systemic obstacles”

“Decide if social work is for me, career-wise.”

“Be confident. Trust yourself. Be yourself.”

“Learn what it is to be a case manager, and then be an effective case manager.”

“Go outside of my comfort zone.”

“Learn parts of your city you would never learn through friends and family.”

“Figure out your next step. Not what you’re going to do for the rest of your life, but just what you’re going to do after this.”

A statement from Haggai Eshed, President of the Front Steps Board of Directors 

As of September 30, Austin Public Health will terminate all contracts with Front Steps.  

This termination is difficult news for all of us. It is especially concerning because there has never been a time when the coordination and success of homeless service providers in our community matter more than now. 

Most importantly, our clients will continue to have access to our services and programs. Programs for all clients will continue as usual.   

“In the height of the pandemic, our organization experienced multiple organizational challenges, including major staffing changes and vacancies. The magnitude of these issues now is where we need to pivot our operations,” Haggai Eshed, President of the Front Steps Board of Directors, said. “As a former Front Steps staff member, and now as Board President, it is my responsibility that, in the face of uncertainty, the continuation of client services during this transition is our top priority.” 

For 25 years, Front Steps has helped clients navigate wait lists, overcome personal setbacks, cope with negative public opinion and manage the daily stresses of being on the streets or in shelter settings. With our around-the-clock presence, many people experiencing homelessness in Austin would be without life-saving shelter and resources. We recognize this also impacts Front Steps’ hardworking, dedicated frontline staff. 

While the city begins to work with homeless service providers to absorb current contracts that include the operation of the Southbridge Shelter, our Permanent Supportive Housing programs, and the ARCH function, there are more than 250 clients enrolled in these three programs. We are committed to continuing their services through the end of our fiscal year, September 30, 2022. 

When this transition is complete, our nonprofit partners in this work – already operating at maximum capacity – will be responsible for the care of our clients. Your support for their work is crucial as the need is great and resources are thin as nonprofits are significantly impacted by the increased social and economic instability we all face. 

Over the next 90 days, we are committed to working alongside Austin Public Health to maintain stability. We will work to ensure that this transition protects our clients and maintains the integrity of our organization.