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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2019 PIT Count Reveals Reduction in Youth Homelessness

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January’s Point in Time Count – an annual event that provides community data around how many individuals and families are experiencing homelessness and what their needs are – has revealed a dramatic reduction in the numbers of youth experiencing homelessness.

While the overall numbers of individuals and families experiencing homelessness remained more or less level, we saw tremendous progress with youth (18-24) homelessness – a 25% reduction in youth homelessness overall and a 58% reduction in unsheltered youth homelessness!

This is incredibly encouraging news, and a tribute to both the community movement to End Youth Homelessness and our specific work at LifeWorks. In 2016, we joined together with Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO)SAFEIntegral CareCaritas of Austin and numerous other organizations to develop a system that would make youth homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring by 2020. We engaged in a nationally-visible 100 Day Challenge, participated in Chapin Hall’s “Voices of Youth Count,” co-wrote the YHDP grant that resulted in $5.2m to Austin, and co-led the development of the Community Plan to End Youth Homelessness that was approved by HUD and endorsed by the Austin City Council in 2018.

LifeWorks has almost 60 years of history of providing effective, compassionate shelter and housing options, but this marked the first time we decided to address youth homelessness as a community issue we can solve collaboratively and systemically. We are building a system of service and opportunity that will result in making youth homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring. 

In 2018, we launched three new programs aligned with these goals. Homelessness Diversion works with school districts, child welfare and juvenile justice to prevent youth from experiencing homelessness; the PORT (Permanence Through Outreach and Rapid Transitions) is a transition-aged youth facility that strives to make homelessness brief; and Rapid Re-Housing places and supports youth in apartments with case management, mental health and workforce support. These three programs have moved almost 80 youth to housing in the last 5 months!

While this is tremendous news, we are hardly finished. There are 258 youth still waiting for housing. Our goal is to continue to scale until we can accurately state that youth homelessness in Austin Texas is rare, brief and non-recurring. 

We fully intend to do this – with you - by 2020.