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City of Austin's temporary homeless project ends after helping hundreds

The city created a temporary pop-up Resource Navigation Center to better identify the needs of the homeless. It ended on Friday.

AUSTIN, Texas — A temporary program created by the City of Austin to identify the needs of the homeless ended on Friday. Now, officials will take the results to improve homelessness in the city.

"What we found is – a lot of people don't know where to go for correct, accurate, up-to-date information for housing and employment resources," said Mark Janchar, user researcher for the City's Office of Design and Delivery

Since the program's creation in late August, the Resource Navigation Center helped 355 homeless people and referred them to more than 35 different organizations, according to a city memo.

"In a system that can often feel confusing and disconnected, the goals of the Resource Navigation Center were to assist people in crisis, solve problems and identify immediate next steps," said Lori Pampilo Harris, Austin's new Homeless Strategy Officer. "We will be looking at the results of this pilot closely to see how they can help our efforts to tackle homelessness across Austin." 

The project, operating out of the old Faulk Library downtown, focused on helping point the homeless toward housing and employment services.

"One of the biggest benefits I observed to folks was getting an empathetic face-to-face interaction with somebody," Janchar said. "The strength of a human connection and interaction with somebody was really vital in the success of this pilot." 

The press release stated the program also provided services regarding social security applications, voter registrations, ID printing, verified assistance letters, SNAP/food stamps applications, resume building, ID renewals, warrant affidavits and establishing email addresses.

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Austin Public Health, Downtown Austin Community Court and the City's Office of Design and Delivery led the month-long project. 

The project acted as a launchpad to identify the disparities for the homeless and identify the most necessary resources to fill the gaps. 

On Thursday, KVUE sat down with the new homeless strategy officer to discuss her new role and how she's already tackling the challenge head-on. 

"I believe in providing data-driven recommendations and knowledge to our community and our council members so that they can make the best-informed decisions moving things forward," Harris said.

WATCH: Austin Homeless: Struggle on the Streets

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