Our mission is to prevent and end homelessness in Greater Austin. It’s a lofty goal, to be sure, but one we believe can actually be accomplished by working together with other like-minded service providers, the public sector and our supporters. One of the most limiting factors, however, is deeply affordable housing and especially permanent supportive housing.
At Caritas of Austin, we know that we must expand our housing options and scale services in order to dramatically decrease the number of people experiencing homelessness.
In working toward that goal, we have developed a growth plan to progressively increase the number of people we provide with housing services each year through 2025. In 2019, we provided housing services to 588 individuals and we aim to serve 717 individuals in 2021. By 2025, our plan is to serve 1,260 people annually. But, in order to increase our capacity, we will first need to increase our housing partnerships, build our own housing, and increase professional social service staff to provide case management.
Increasing housing capacity
Our team of housing specialists have been developing property owner partnerships to provide housing since 2008. These partnerships are vital to moving people who have experienced short-term homelessness back into housing. Accelerating the number of these partnerships will be key to reaching our goals.
People who have experienced long-term homelessness with one or more disabilities are best served by our Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) program, and those options are far more limited. For two years, we have worked to establish funding and now we will embark into new territory by partnering to build and operate our own permanent supportive housing.
The time is right to build supportive housing
Caritas has partnered with The Vecino Group, a national developer of mission-driven housing, and Austin Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) – to develop an apartment community called Espero Austin at Rutland for people experiencing homelessness. The partnership is in alignment with the City of Austin’s priority to end homelessness. This deeply affordable and intensely supportive housing will consist of 171 studio apartments. Espero Austin will provide high-quality living with access to transportation, businesses, health care and other amenities. Residents will receive tailored case management, on-site supportive services and intensive community-based services. The development will be located at 1934 Rutland Drive.
Earlier in March, Espero Austin at Rutland received approval for the 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) funding administered by Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA). Funding through this tax credit, Private Activity Bonds and $8.5 million from AHFC provides the funding needed to build this new apartment community for permanent supportive housing.
“Housing is the foundation that people who have experienced homelessness need to build well-being and regain stability,” says Jo Kathryn Quinn, president and CEO of Caritas. “Drastically increasing the number of deeply affordable apartment homes is a key component to ending homelessness. Espero Austin at Rutland is a major step toward this solution. It means that 171 people will no longer be forced to live in a tent on our streets but have a safe place to call home and become a part of our community again.”
The Vecino Group and Caritas of Austin will break ground to begin construction this summer and we anticipate leasing the apartments by the fall of 2022.