A Forum on Homelessness

Photo by Brian Birzer

Photo by Brian Birzer

On August 29, the LBJ School of Public Affairs and the LBJ Foundation hosted a public forum featuring LifeWorks Chief Executive Officer Susan McDowell. The dynamic panel included Mayor Steve Adler, Police Chief Brian Manley, ECHO Executive Director Matthew Mollica, Homes Not Handcuffs Community Advocate Chris Harris, LBJ School of Public Affairs Clinical Professor Sherri Greenberg, and Downtown Austin Alliance VP of Investor Relations Bill Brice. The forum offered a platform for the community to discuss recent changes to Austin’s public ordinances and the city’s plan to move forward with solutions for individuals experiencing homelessness. 

Steven Pedigo, event moderator and the Director of the LBJ School of Public Affairs Urban Lab, led the discussion that encompassed a broad range of topics around homelessness. Mayor Adler emphasized that the starting point to help individuals experiencing homelessness was to facilitate housing as soon as possible, therefore increasing a person’s access to health services and employment opportunities. 

Susan explained that LifeWorks takes a coordinated data-driven, multi-agency, and multi-partnership approach to ending youth homelessness. We know that 76 percent of youth experiencing homelessness (ages 24 and below) have experienced either foster care, juvenile justice, or both. Therefore, when looking at the driving causes of youth homelessness, she said that it’s important to take a close look at our systems involvement and address those fundamental issues. 

Photo by Brian Birzer

Photo by Brian Birzer

Photo by Brian Birzer

Photo by Brian Birzer

In acknowledgement of these issues, LifeWorks provides 21 programs designed to bolster self-sufficiency under the categories of Housing, Counseling, and Education/Workforce. LifeWorks has one of the most comprehensive continuums of housing and support options for vulnerable youth in the country, including Street Outreach, Emergency Shelter, Transitional Living, Young Parents Program, Rapid Re-Housing and Permanent Supportive Housing.  As the topic of homelessness continues to be top-of-mind for Austin residents, LifeWorks is an example of the kind of comprehensive support that results in sustainable self-sufficiency.  

To watch the entire forum streaming click below. To learn more about LifeWorks programming visit lifeworksaustin.org/housing.

LifeWorks Hosts the City of Austin’s 2020 Proposed Budget Announcement 

LifeWorks Executive Director, Susan McDowell welcoming Mayor Steve Adler

LifeWorks Executive Director, Susan McDowell welcoming Mayor Steve Adler

On August 5, LifeWorks hosted the City’s presentation of the anticipated 2020 proposed budget. Celebrating 24 years with the organization, LifeWorks Chief Executive Officer, Susan McDowell welcomed Mayor Steve Adler, City Manager Spencer Cronk, City Council Members, and media to LifeWorks east side location. LifeWorks is one of many organizations the City invests in and partners with that is showing success. Susan’s commitment to the LifeWorks mission and goal of ending youth homelessness by 2020, made LifeWorks an ideal location for the City to announce plans on addressing Austin’s homelessness for the upcoming fiscal year.  

Following Susan’s warm welcome was Lyric Wardlow, Lifeworks Youth Advocacy Specialist. Once-homeless, Lyric is now a thriving entrepreneur who shared the success of advocacy efforts by the Austin Youth Collective. She asked that City Council give thought to where funding goes to ensure that youth have access to every opportunity possible. Lyric bravely strives to be the voice for those who don’t yet have the opportunity to be heard. She hopes that one day everyone has a seat at the table.  

Lyric from the Austin Youth Collective, with Austin’s City Manager, Spencer Cronk.

Lyric from the Austin Youth Collective, with Austin’s City Manager, Spencer Cronk.

LifeWorks Executive Director, Susan McDowell speaking with the press.

LifeWorks Executive Director, Susan McDowell speaking with the press.

The budget was then presented by the City Manager who proposed a historic commitment to ending homelessness in Austin. This year’s budget process included unprecedented collaboration in building the budget to increase quality and equality across City services. Citywide spending on homeless-related services, support, and facilities will increase to nearly $63 million. The cornerstones of support will include housing displacement prevention, crisis mitigation, and re-empowerment through safe and sustainable housing solutions. With 21 programs designed to bolster self-sufficiency under the categories of Housing, Counseling, and Education/Workforce, LifeWorks is a perfect example of comprehensive support that results in sustainable self-sufficiency. The City has a long-standing relationship with LifeWorks recognizing its service as a fearless advocate with innovative problem solving. 

For the full budget proposal, please visit https://www.speakupaustin.org/budget-2020.

LifeWorks 2019 Prom

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Second Chance Prom took place July 11 and this year’s "Full Moon Masquerade” theme was fully represented with the outfits youth chose! LifeWorks provides the dresses and suits, the hair and makeup, and everything else needed for youth to have a full prom experience! 

In the weeks leading up to Prom, our supporters donated dresses, shoes, and accessories to ensure that more than 40 youth could experience a happy moment in their lives. During Prom, they smiled, danced, and wore their outfit with pride. Whatever the youth selected to wear as part of their Prom attire was given to them to keep.

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