AUSTIN, Texas — Rupal Chaudhari is the leader behind the Move Candlewood movement. Her goal is to get the City of Austin to move their supportive housing project from the Candlewood Suites hotel because she said it’s not the best location to help. 

“I do believe it’s in a resource desert, there are not many services out there,” said Chaudhari.

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During a panel held this week, leaders said the first thing is first -- the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) should count the homeless population before making new plans. 

“There's plans being built based on numbers we know are faulty, but we know on top of them being faulty, the numbers that are coming out are estimates, there’s no counts that have been done since 2020 here,” said Michele Steeb with the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

She said we need to shift what entities are helping with homelessness. 

“For the most part, cities are not constituted to do this. Counties, this is a health and human services crisis," she said.

Panel attendees said that the root causes of homelessness need to be addressed. 

“We need help with mental health, we need help with physical health. We need help with case management,” said Alan Graham, CEO of Mobile Loaves and Fishes. 

He said the community must come together and work on the issue, and not just expect the government to deal with it. 

“We've got to learn that the price tag on this is actually going to be extraordinarily substantial if we actually want to make a difference in our community," Graham said.

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