AUSTIN, Texas — Although the City of Austin has initiated numerous efforts to assist those experiencing homelessness, an audit released in February reveals there are plenty of opportunities for improvement.

According to the report from the Office of the City Auditor, service providers contracted by the City to provide services to the homeless did not meet performance goals, limiting the City's ability to aid the homeless population. The report also indicates that although the City recently established goals to measure the long-term success of its homelessness efforts, its goals may not effectively measure success.

The auditor also reported that resources to prevent people from falling into homelessness are not sufficient and may not have been used to serve those at the highest risk of experiencing homelessness. Additionally, the report states the City could improve coordination and collaboration of case management services so that it can reduce inefficiencies and better connect people to the services they require.

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The full report highlights four key findings:

  1. The City does not effectively ensure outcomes are met and does not determine the long-term success of homelessness assistance efforts.
  2. Efforts to prevent people in Austin from experiencing homelessness may not effectively serve people with the highest risk and are insufficient to meet the needs of the population.
  3. Case management services in Austin may not be sufficient or adequate, making it harder to connect people to services and increasing the length of time people experience homelessness.
  4. The City has made significant efforts to assist people experiencing homelessness, and opportunities exist to enhance current efforts.

The report also outlined four recommendations and management response items:

  1. The assistant city manager responsible for coordinating the City's homelessness efforts should review how the City measures the long-term success of homelessness assistance efforts, to ensure all goals are measurable and include appropriate timeframes.
  2. The assistant city manager should ensure each contract related to homelessness assistance: requires vendors track and report long-term outcomes; requires vendors collect, report and incorporate client feedback; establishes a method to prioritize clients for services; sets realistic performance goals; and provides appropriate resources to achieve these efforts.
  3. The assistant city manager should work with City departments to enhance the capacity of existing homeless prevention programs and develop new programs to prevent homelessness.
  4. The assistant city manager should work with stakeholders to design and implement changes to improve coordination and collaboration among all entities providing case management services in Austin.

To read the full audit report, click here.

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