As family violence rates rise and every shelter in the area operates on a waitlist, the city of Austin is helping create more shelter space for survivors of violence and abuse.
SAFE and the city are working together to create comprehensive community housing that will serve people living at the intersection of homelessness and family violence. Anyone who experiences abuse deserves to have access to safety.
SAFE’s current Family Shelter capacity
- In 2020, the 24/7 SAFEline responded to nearly 22,000 calls, texts, and chats. More than 3/4 of those contacts were about family violence.
- The SAFEline continues to receive a 14% increase in calls compared to the previous year.
- SAFE currently operates the Kelly White Family Shelter in East Austin.
- Over the past 30 days, SAFE has had an average of 31 people on the waitlist for the SAFE Family Shelter. That number includes adults and their children—but it is mostly single adults.
- We currently have 105 beds at the Family Shelter, but due to COVID protocols and the specific arrangements for some of the units, we typically have about 90 people housed at the SAFE Family Shelter at any given time, including adults and children.
Details about the new shelter
- The exact location of the new shelter has not yet been decided by the city. Austin City Council has said that it may use an existing city-owned hotel or it may purchase a new hotel for this purpose.
- Wherever the new shelter may be, the structure must be renovated before it can be used as a SAFE family shelter. Those renovations are expected to take approximately 18-24 months.
- Once renovations are complete, we hope to have as many as 70-100 additional beds. That’s a rough estimate, but that’s the hope.
- While renovations on the new shelter are happening, SAFE expects to be able to house an additional 30-50 people in different locations throughout the city.
The intersection of homelessness and violence:
Right here in our community, people are making the impossible choice between an abusive household and experiencing homelessness. Many of the residents in the SAFE Family Shelter have made that choice and left their homes to seek safety from violence.
Family violence and homelessness are directly connected and the numbers back up what we see firsthand:
- Nationally, 80% of mothers with children experiencing homelessness had previously faced domestic violence.
- In Texas, 27% of former foster youth report experiencing homelessness within three years of having aged out of the system
- In Austin last year, 72% of people experiencing homelessness reported that their homelessness was caused by trauma or abuse.
- Unhoused survivors of violence and abuse face barriers to safety, barriers to housing, and ongoing cycles of homelessness and abuse.
Yet, securing safe and sustainable housing in our town has gotten even harder.
- The average rent in Austin is more than $1,411 per month, but an individual working a full-time, minimum wage job grosses only $1,343 per month—it is virtually impossible to work your way out of homelessness.
Media coverage of the new shelter
Watch the full May 19, 2021 press conference about the new shelter here.
View local coverage from KVUE, KUT, KXAN, KLBJ, CBS Austin, Community Impact, Austin Chronicle, Austin American-Statesman, and additional coverage from KVUE.
For more information about the new shelter, please contact SAFE Chief Public Strategies Officer Piper Stege Nelson at email@example.com.