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Audit finds City of Austin lacks full list of homelessness efforts

In response to the report, the City said it will work on ways to track homelessness spending across all departments.

AUSTIN, Texas — A new report gave us a deeper look at homelessness spending in Austin.

The Office of the City Auditor released a report this month in response to how homelessness spending aligns with City Council's direction.

In the 21-page report, the Office of the City Auditor found City Council issued 47 resolutions, ordinances and other direction regarding helping the homeless community from September 2018 to May 2021.

From fiscal years 2019 to 2021, it found the City budgeted $179 million for homelessness assistance. 

The report stated Austin Public Health, Housing and Planning Department and Downtown Austin Community Court were in charge of managing 93% of spending regarding homelessness. 

"We found that Austin Public Health’s spending on homelessness assistance generally aligns with Council direction and stated priorities," the report said. "However, there is no complete inventory of agreements and associated spending for the City’s homelessness assistance efforts, and we could not determine the number of these agreements due to limitations with available data."

The report also stated: "City departments appear committed to the City’s overall strategic direction on homelessness assistance while also having a level of discretion to allocate spending that is aligned with their department mission."

The audit came in response to a request from Councilmembers Mackenzie Kelly and Leslie Pool, who asked how homelessness spending aligns with Council direction over the past few years.

Kelly sent KVUE a statement in response to the report:

"I appreciate the time and effort put into by the City Auditor’s Office to provide a special request audit of the city’s spending on homelessness. I look forward to having future conversations with the Homeless Strategy Office on how to better track the city’s expenditures and agreements related to homelessness to ensure that those seeking the services receive the best possible outcome."

A City spokesperson also sent KVUE a statement in response to the report:

“We welcome the Auditor’s findings that the City’s investments to address the homelessness crisis align with Council direction and priorities, and that individual departments are committed to the City’s overall strategy to tackle this important issue. This year the City hired a Homeless Strategy Officer to coordinate the City’s efforts across multiple City departments to ensure a seamless approach and response, and that work continues. As part of this process we are working to identify options in our financial system that will denote all contracts that involve homelessness response so that we can comprehensively track our spending across all City departments.”

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