Sue with Daughter

When you’re the one who needs it, shelter is the most important thing in the world that day.

There are a lot of reasons people need help with housing. Sometimes life doesn’t turn out the way we planned. Other times we experience unexpected circumstances, such as job loss or medical debt. With one in six people living in poverty today, homelessness is not predictable or exclusive to a certain type of person. It could happen to anyone.

When you need a roof over your head for the night, The Salvation Army emergency shelters are here to help. Hundreds of people sleep safely every night in the Austin area because of these programs.

The Downtown Shelter and Social Service Center.

The Downtown Shelter and Social Service opened in 1987, The Downtown Shelter and Social Service Center, downtown at 501 East 8th Street, provides emergency shelter for more than 242 women, men and families with children on a nightly basis. 3,800 persons enter emergency shelter annually. Approximately 400 meals are served daily to residents and persons in the community. Residents are provided shelter anywhere from seven days to three months.

In addition to basic needs services, residents are offered access to collocated community programs including Goodwill, Veterans Outreach, and Narcotics Anonymous The Salvation Army also provides a broad array of on-site supportive services such as case management, counseling, life skills training, educational programs, outsourced child care, and a community chapel, a comprehensive employment services program offers job search assistance and support as well as a transitional shelter option for new workers. Residents needing longer term support services are referred to the Passages Program and Rapid ReHousing Program for six to 18 months of housing assistance, case management and support services i.e. subsidized child care.

The Salvation Army participated in the Mayor’s initiative to end veteran homelessness and the initiative to end youth homelessness. The Salvation Army is the lead agency in the initiative to end family homelessness in our community.

Funding for The Social Services Center comes from city, county, state, federal, and private sources. The Austin Salvation Army operates two emergency shelters and is one of the largest providers of emergency shelter and basic needs services for homeless and low income people in the Central Texas area.

Austin Shelter for Women and Children

The Austin Shelter for Women and Children is a city-funded facility operated by The Salvation Army. Our goal as operator of the program is to provide “wrap-around” services designed to assist homeless women in ensuring that homelessness is brief, rare, and non-recurring. Based on a model of trauma-informed care, objectives focus on obtaining safe and stable housing, income necessary to support housing, and personal stability. The Austin Shelter for Women and Children has a special focus on children’s services which include licensed child care, child/family therapy, specialized school aged children’s groups, family field trips and evening activities, and after-school tutoring and transportation to local schools. The shelter has recently completed a city-funded renovation and expansion to address the greater community need.

Read about a woman’s experience of checking in to the ASWC on pages 6-7 of our 2018 Annual Report.

Applicants are accepted on a first call first serve basis, and the center maintains a call-back list which has averaged more than 300 women and children for the past year. This project included renovations to the existing 17,000 square-foot facility, a new 4,900 square-foot residential wing, and a new 3,200 square-foot child care facility, which will aid in improving and increasing services. The project was constructed in phases allowing the existing facility to remain continuously operational to serve women and children in need. The additional residential space has increased the shelter from 60 beds to 81.

During an average stay of approximately 90 days, clients work on plans to acquire permanent housing and increase their skills and income. Many are linked to rapid rehousing, transitional and permanent housing opportunities through The Salvation Army’s collaborative initiatives such as the Passages Program. ASWC staff provide follow -up case management in these cases for 6 to 18 months after participants are housed. The ASWC has a highly qualified staff of social work, counseling and educational professionals who work as an interdisciplinary team. The focus on trauma-informed services, health/wellness, and connection to mainstream housing and employment resources contribute to the successful percentage of exits to safe and stable housing

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