The Meaning of the Word
Caritas provides a service continuum for those experiencing poverty that begins with a safety net and links them to resources to achieve self-sufficiency.
Caritas envisions a community where there is respect for all individuals, hope for those experiencing poverty and opportunities for self-reliance.
Who We Serve
Caritas serves over 20,000 people each year whose opportunities have been diminished by poverty and homelessness. Our clients include households of all sizes; many of whom are veterans, refugees, women and children. They all share a common reality: they are struggling to get by. They are currently homeless or could become homeless at any time. Regardless of clients’ past experience and future goals, Caritas works alongside each one to increase stability and self-sufficiency.
Homelessness and Poverty
The Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) annual point-in-time count identified 2,121 people in Austin and Travis County as homeless in January 2013. The report also states that over 12,000 people received homeless services in 2012. While this year’s count is down from 2,568 in 2011, there is still much work to be done in minimizing homelessness in Austin.
Additionally, more than a third (36%) of Travis County residents are considered low-income, which means they are living at or below 200% of the federal poverty guideline. For a family of four, that is $45,622 annually. All Caritas clients meet this definition and many live significantly below this income level. What does this mean? Oftentimes, it means our clients have to decide between buying groceries and turning on their air conditioning. Most months they are faced with choosing which bills to pay. It means not going to the doctor until an emergency occurs. It means having to work multiple jobs and still struggling to make ends meet.
Austin has now become one of the 10 most expensive rental markets in the United States, causing an increasing number of people to experience poverty and become at-risk for homelessness. A recent report by the National Low-Income Housing Coalition determined that an Austin-area individual earning minimum wage in 2013 would have to work 111 hours per week to afford a 2-bedroom apartment. Because of this, the demand for Caritas services continues to rise. Last year over 56,000 people sought housing and other support services from Caritas. Only with community support can we continue expanding our capacity to serve those most in need.
Caritas takes a “housing-first approach” in our efforts to both prevent and end homelessness. We believe that clients must first secure a stable living situation before they can address other areas of crisis in their lives. Once clients establish stable housing, they can focus on opportunities for employment, education, food, physical and mental health services and building a network of support. Caritas’ professional staff members facilitate this comprehensive approach; which is evidence-based and effective in helping people achieve self-sufficiency.
At Caritas of Austin, we measure success in terms of lasting stability. Our goal is for clients to achieve long-term self-sufficiency. We are proud that 85% of the clients in our supportive housing programs remain stable, move out of crisis, and do not return to the streets. Last year, Caritas prevented over 2,000 from becoming homeless and found permanent housing for 150 of Austin’s most chronically homeless.
Additionally, this year we will:
• Serve 85,000 meals in our Community Kitchen
• Provide enough take-home groceries for 43,000 meals for hungry families
• Help 440 individuals find employment
• Offer over 800 education classes on topics like money management, being a tenant, and smart shopping
• Resettle 500 documented refugees in their transition to life in the United States
The entire community benefits from Caritas services. A strong community is one where every person and family has the opportunity to be self-reliant.
The following are some of the key collaborations in which Caritas of Austin is involved:
ECHO (Ending Community Homelessness Coalition) is a collaborative of individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations dedicated to ending homelessness in Austin. More information at www.austinecho.org.
The Downtown Austin Alliance (DAA) is a partnership of individuals and businesses devoted to preserving and enhancing the value and vitality of downtown Austin. More information at www.downtownaustin.com.
Downtown Austin Community Court (DACC) works to collaboratively address the quality of life issues of all residents in the downtown Austin community through the swift, creative sentencing of public order offenders. More information at www.austintexas.gov/department/community-court.
One Voice Central Texas is a coalition of over 80 nonprofits providing health and human services to or on behalf of vulnerable Central Texas residents. More information at www.onevoicecentraltx.org.
Austin Refugee Roundtable is a coalition of local organizations with the goal of enhancing services to refugees and making Austin a welcoming and supportive resettlement community. More information at www.austinrefugees.org.
Keep Austin Affordable is a coalition of business, faith, and community leaders working to ensure there are sufficient affordable housing options in Austin. More information at www.keepatxaffordable.org.
Caritas is committed to maximizing the impact your gift can make in the lives of our clients. We continue to keep our administrative fundraising costs low. In order to uphold the utmost transparency, our financial statements are available below.