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Pop-up navigation center helps hundreds of homeless

Monday, September 30, 2019 by Tai Moses

As the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless transitions to a housing-focused, 24-hour reservation-based shelter that will eventually cease drop-in services, a pop-up Resource Navigation Center stepped in to fill the void. In one month, starting on Aug. 26, more than 350 homeless people received help at the pop-up center, a temporary pilot project that ended over the weekend. Support staff center assisted people with Social Security applications, voter registration, ID printing, verified assistance letters, SNAP/food stamps applications, resume services, warrant affidavits, and setting up email accounts. Referrals were made to housing and employment services as well as mental health screenings, HIV testing and health care. Lori Pampilo Harris, Austin’s new homeless strategy officer, said in a press release, “We will be looking at the results of this pilot closely to see how they can help our efforts to tackle homelessness across Austin. 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.” The pop-up center, which operated out of the old Faulk Library in downtown Austin, was led by Austin Public Health, Downtown Austin Community Court and the city’s Office of Design and Delivery. The data gathered by the pilot will help identify “which resources are most critical to people experiencing homelessness, which parts of Austin have the largest gap, and how resources can be offered in a meaningful way.”

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