AUSTIN, Texas — Megan Boyd has her boots to the ground at the Sunrise Homeless Navigation Center. She’s part of a mobile outreach program that travels to homeless encampments across the city to conduct coordinated assessments.
As Boyd and her team arrived at a parking lot on Menchaca Road, the outreach team stumbled upon dozens of unhoused residents whose encampment was just cleaned out.
Boyd meets a young woman by the name of Breanna Salazar, who is fairly new to homelessness.
“I don’t know how to be on these streets. It’s my first time and I’m scared,” said Salazar.
Salazar tells us she’s only been unhoused for a few days. She lived at the encampment that was swept just hours before. Without that sense of community at the encampment, Salazar says, she doesn’t have anywhere else to go.
“I sleep in apartment bathrooms, apartment laundry rooms and the gyms that they have and it’s crazy to think that this is where I’m at in life,” said Salazar.
Boyd believes having a mobile outreach is crucial in reaching the most vulnerable populations who are displaced on the streets.
“If they are new to this, they don’t know where to go to get services. So being able to find someone and do the assessment and be like, 'Here is some other places you can get resources,' is huge,” said Boyd.
The nonprofit Ending Community Homelessness Coalition, also known as E.C.H.O., awarded a $2 million grant to three homeless outreach groups to be split evenly to service unhoused residents of color. Mark Hilbelink with Sunrise Homeless Navigation Center says the funds will go towards bringing two pilots programs, including the mobile outreach program, fully online. He says the programs will have a focus on racial equity among the homeless.