How to House - Make a choice, change a course

We can significantly reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness and make housing a human right for everyone living in Austin. Here’s how.

Housing ends homelessness. Property owners and managers must be part of the solution in order to grow housing opportunities and advance antiracist policies. We’re asking owners and managers of all sizes to enter into partnerships with ECHO’s Community Housing Team. These partnerships will allow us to move more people experiencing homelessness into safe, stable housing and remove barriers that disproportionately affect our Black and other historically oppressed neighbors who need housing.

 

Thousands of our neighbors are living on the street, unsheltered and unsafe. A disproportionate number of them – more than one in three – are Black or African American. This is not a coincidence; it’s the inevitable result of centuries of racism and policies that enable and enforce a culture of white supremacy. From healthcare to housing, education and jobs, and over-policing and the criminal justice system, racial inequities create a culture in which Black Austinites are 4.8 times more likely to experience homelessness than their White neighbors. That’s why the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) and the Austin Justice Coalition are teaming up.

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Number of Households housed through the ECHO Community Housing Team through the How to House campaign

We know How to House our neighbors.

Help us turn the knowledge into practice.

Your voice matters. There are two key ways you can get involved right now.

  1. Tell your property owner or manager you support making units in your building available for your neighbors experiencing homelessness. Fill out and send the email template below either directly to your property manager, or to [email protected] to remain anonymous and we’ll send it for you.

Dear [PROPERTY OWNER/MANAGEMENT COMPANY],

As a resident at [PROPERTY], I am writing to express my support for providing housing opportunities for our neighbors experiencing homelessness. Our community knows How to House these neighbors, but we need your help.

Austin is struggling right now to house people living on the street. You can be part of the solution to ensure just, equitable systems for everyone who calls this city home. By partnering with ECHO’s Community Housing Team through the How to House campaign, you will help remove barriers that disproportionately deny Black Austinites experiencing homelessness access to safe, stable housing.

I want to live in a property that contributes to the health and well-being of all Austinites, and you can partner with the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) to make that happen.

You can find more information about the How to House campaign here, and you can contact [email protected] when you’re ready to be part of the solution.

Sincerely,
[YOUR NAME] or A resident of [PROPERTY]

2.    Share your support for this campaign on social media using the hashtags #howtohouseatx and . Here are some suggestions:

Twitter sample post: 

“Housing is a human right, but we have work to do to ensure that right for every Austinite. We know #HowtoHouse our neighbors; that’s why I’m joining with @atxecho and @atxjustice to ask property owners and managers to be part of the solution. Learn + act: howtohouseatx.org” #howtohouseatx

 

Facebook sample post:

“Housing is a human right. But for too long, safe, stable housing has remained out of reach for too many of our neighbors. That’s why I’m supporting @atxecho and @austinjusticecoalition in asking property owners and managers to be part of the solution.” #howtohouseatx


“Our community is struggling to ensure this basic right for every Austinite; it doesn’t have to be this way. We know #HowtoHouse our neighbors. Join me in turning this knowledge into action: howtohouseatx.org”

 

We can’t do this without you.

Take these steps and commit to being part of the solution to two of our community’s most pressing challenges.

  1. Get the facts about the How to House campaign:
    • You will connect with a member of ECHO’s Community Housing team to individualize a partnership agreement that is mutually beneficial.
    • ECHO refers clients experiencing homelessness to your property based on low-barrier screening criteria everyone agrees to.
    • Referred tenants are enrolled in programs that provide rental assistance and case management to help clients remain stably housed. There are additional financial incentives to ensure any outstanding rental debt is paid.
    • Staff at your property will be supported by a dedicated team at ECHO to connect tenants facing housing instability with case managers to resolve any issues that may arise.
  2. Contact [email protected] to learn more about the process and how you can become a partner in ending homelessness and building a more just, equitable Austin.
  3. Consider telling your tenants and the public about your commitment. Contact [email protected] to tell your story about why you support the How to House campaign.

Not a renter or a landlord/property member?

You can still help our neighbors who experience homelessness or prevent them from falling into homelessness.

Not a renter or a property owner/manager? You can still help our neighbors who experience homelessness or prevent them from falling into homelessness.

Homes end homelessness. There’s a significant shortage of permanent housing options in our community; the How to House campaign will make a significant difference in hundreds of people’s lives, but it won’t be enough. Here are a couple things you can do to help:

  1. Tell Congress to pass a new COVID-19 relief bill that includes direct rental assistance to people facing eviction or other housing instability.
  • We’re running out of time to prevent the worst economic effects of this pandemic for millions of Americans. Researchers estimate 30-40 million renters across the country are at risk of losing their housing, and the CDC’s eviction moratorium is about to expire.
  • Learn more and use these resources from the National Low Income Housing Coalition to advocate for an eviction moratorium extension, direct rental assistance, and expanded resources for people experiencing homelessness or facing housing instability.
  1. Reach out to your local, state, and federal elected officials and tell them you support funding for evidence-based permanent housing programs based on the Housing First model:

Not sure what to say? Try this:

Dear [ELECTED OFFICIAL],

I’m writing today to express my support for lasting solutions to homelessness in Austin, in Texas, and across the country. I’m one of your constituents, and thousands of our neighbors face housing instability every day. We can make a difference in their lives and in the lives of every person who calls this community home if we’re willing to support evidence-based, lasting solutions to homelessness.

Homes end homelessness. Evidence shows permanent housing solutions based on a Housing First model help people end their homelessness quickly and remain stably housed for longer than other interventions. Here in Austin, Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) programs (all of which are based on the Housing First model) are very successful in keeping people housed long term; 97% of people connected to a PSH program in 2019 in Austin either remained housed or successfully exited that program. Nationally, research shows PSH and Rapid Re-Rehousing (RRH) programs based on the Housing First model are between 75% and 98% effective at keeping people housed over a two-year reporting period.

But we simply don’t have enough PSH or RRH units to support all our neighbors. Here in Austin, we need thousands of additional units of Permanent Supportive Housing and Rapid Re-Housing just to meet the current, not to mention the anticipated need due to the pandemic recession.

Decades of disinvestment in affordable housing and social supports have led us to this moment of national crisis, and only the decision to reverse that trend will get us out of it. The richest country in the world can and should provide this basic necessity to every person, regardless of their current situation. We have a moral obligation to provide this basic human right to every one of our neighbors.

I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right: It won’t be cheap. But consider this: Evidence shows it actually saves the public money in the long run to invest in permanent housing rather than emergency services – shelters, hospitals, jails – for people experiencing homelessness. One study shows a Housing First program saved $31,545 on emergency services per person over a two-year period; another estimates savings of $23,000 per person per year compared to a shelter program.

Take the Terrace at Oak Springs, a Permanent Supportive Housing development in Austin. Integral Care, the nonprofit that operates the development, analyzed data for 50 clients from the six months before they moved into the program and the six months after, and found the following:

  • Over 70% reduction in arrests.
  • Over 60% reduction in medical inpatient admissions.
  • Almost 90% reduction in medical inpatient bed days.

In all, these reductions cut the cost to the public by more than $330,000 over the course of those six months. Think of the savings to the public if we were to invest fully in lasting solutions to homelessness like permanent housing for every person who needs it. You can help make this happen.

Housing is healthcare. Housing is harm reduction. Housing is a human right. I ask again that you support evidence-based, lasting solutions to homelessness to provide this basic right to every one of our neighbors.

Sincerely,

[YOUR NAME]