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Austin-Travis County creates social services branch for COVID-19 response efforts

"We need to show more compassion during these uncertain times,” said Stephanie Hayden, director of Austin Public Health.

AUSTIN, Texas — As part of the ongoing response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Austin-Travis County Emergency Operations Center has established a social services branch.

The branch includes multiple strike teams and task forces, such as: 

  • Homelessness Task Force: develops short-term strategies (food access, personal hygiene) and long-term strategies (additional shelter beds, identification of quarantine facility) to address gaps in the homelessness response system related to COVID-19
  • Food Access Task Force: collaborates with community partners to address food system issues related to the response, in addition to working on a longer-term strategy for addressing the anticipated increase in food access needs throughout the community
  • Behavioral Health Task Force: coordinates with the local mental health authority, other mental health and substance abuse providers to address emerging community needs.

The Homeless Services Division of Austin Public Health (APH) has also increased services for homeless individuals, including adding hand-washing stations. The City launched an interactive online map to help people find the nearest site for services. According to the City, the map is regularly updated as additional services become available.

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The City also said Saturday that APH Neighborhood Centers will begin providing emergency rent and utility assistance starting on Monday, April 6, in addition to their emergency food delivery services. Clients may call 512-972-5780 for assistance.

"We need to show more compassion during these uncertain times,” said Stephanie Hayden, APH's Director.  “As COVID-19 runs its course in Austin, we need to ensure that there is equitable access to food and basic needs across our community – our Neighborhood Centers are partnering with others to address these needs."

The City has also created a new community forum, the ATX Emergency Food Systems Exchange, which aims to connect food assistance and volunteers with the people who need them.

For more information and updates on the City's COVID-19 response, visit AustinTexas.gov/COVID19

WATCH: Austin Mayor Adler answers your COVID-19 questions 

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