What Austin Street Center Does to Address Homelessness in Dallas

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Austin Street Center’s (ASC) mission is to provide “safe shelter” and meet “the basic needs of the most vulnerable homeless.” In late July, Teresa Thomas, Director of Advancement Communications for ASC, discussed her organization with The Dallas Express

Homeless Served

“We service men 45 years and older, and women 18 years and older, and we feel like that is the most vulnerable population,” Thomas said. She explained that initially, ASC was just a men’s shelter, but a need arose to help women as well. “Women 18 years and younger, when they’re on the street, are very, very vulnerable to violence,” she said. “A lot of women are on the run from previous relationships.”

From January through May of this year, Thomas said ASC served 2,045 homeless, housed 168, and helped 101 become employed. We asked if these numbers were standard. “I would say that we’ve had a two-year hiccup in what our standard numbers are, so I can’t effectively answer that question because we had COVID in the middle of all this,” she replied. “Right now, we’re averaging approximately 30 people per month to be housed.” 

According to their 2020 annual report, during COVID restrictions, ASC served 1,389 homeless, housed 276, and helped 134 find employment. Thomas said these are the metrics ASC uses to measure progress, with emphasis on serving and housing. 


Last year’s report states that 32 percent of their revenue came from individuals, 30 from government grants, 16 from foundations, 15 from special events, five from service organizations, and two from corporations. Their “fundraising highlights” section reported more than $1 million raised during the November 2019 – October 2020 Fiscal Year from five different campaigns.

ASC reported 82 percent of their expenses in 2020 went to programs, 12 to fundraising, and six percent to administration. They also reported having 898 volunteers serving more than 6,800 hours last year, with a “financial impact” of more than $173,000. 

What amount of funding does ASC believe they need to make a significant impact on homelessness? “We don’t have that number, and that’s part of that mentality of ‘checkbox, we fixed it,'” Thomas replied. “This is an ongoing problem, and folks are always going to be on the street. They’re always going to be transitioning on the street. Solving homelessness is going to be a big job.”

“We’re just going to keep growing in scope to help as many people as possible, but there’s no visible finish line.”


Thomas described the process of what ASC does. When a homeless person comes, they’re assigned a caseworker. First, that caseworker helps them get identification. “That’s kind of the gateway to everything else,” she said. The caseworker also helps address other barriers to housing, such as mental and physical health issues. “All these things we try to get addressed so that they can move on.” 

Thomas said ASC doesn’t directly provide medical assistance to the homeless but has partners to help address these needs. “If you have an injury, be it physical or mental, that is preventing you from obtaining housing, then we’re going to help you address it.”

In line with that, last August, working with CitySquare and Texas Health Resources, ASC started a 24-month “Health to Home” pilot program to provide “medical recuperation services” to the homeless. Starting with ten beds, ASC states HTH provides services “at a fraction of the cost” of hospitalization and “addresses underlying causes of homelessness” and other issues. 

Despite stopping “all on-site volunteer activities” in response to COVID–19 last year, ASC continued providing meals to the homeless. They also switched to a 24-hour shelter model, with spaces for quarantine and isolation, while lowering capacity and implementing a “five-tier infectious disease prevention and response protocol for clients and staff.”

“We’ve changed from an overnight shelter to a housing-focused shelter,” Thomas said. 

When asked what ASC’s goals are for this year, she replied they didn’t want to publish them at this time, but they would later. 

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