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COVID-19 pandemic cancels Austin’s count of homeless population


Levon Shyrell was living homeless in Austin earlier this year. The city's annual count of unsheltered people has been canceled due to safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Understanding the depth of Austin’s homelessness crisis is going to be difficult this year as the group responsible for counting the number of people living without shelter says it won’t make a count this year because of COVID-19 safety considerations.

Concerned that face-to-face interactions would risk the health of volunteers and members of the homeless community, the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition — commonly known as ECHO — said it has canceled its annual point-in-time count of people suffering from homelessness.

The announcement from ECHO came Thursday, three weeks before staff and volunteers were scheduled to canvass the city to count unsheltered people on Jan. 28. Instead, the group said it will use alternative methods to get a rough estimate of the city’s homeless population, including a database used to track services provided to unsheltered people.


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