Resources for the Homeless

Does a Handout Really Help?

Submitted by Faye Cormier

Day after day I see someone standing on the street corner holding a sign asking for help. What is that feeling I get as he approaches my car; fear, dread, disgust, guilt? Maybe he will go away if I just give him some money or maybe giving a few dollars will help me feel less guilty.

Will my generosity help him get what he needs to end the cycle of homelessness? Giving him a few dollars may help buy a sandwich today but what about tomorrow?  Unfortunately my generosity does not seem to be working as he is still on the same corner holding the same sign.

Austin offers a variety of community resources to help our homeless neighbors. Offering your time, money or skills to these agencies will help this man get what he needs to support himself and his family.

I would like to share a bit more about the homeless population in relation to community resources.  When I worked with this population, one question that I would always ask is, “Why do you remain in Austin and what would it
take to get you off the street, into housing and a job?”  The majority of people I talked with said the reason they live in Austin is because the community resources are good. One person actually told me that “two helpings are always better than one”, meaning that Austin has a reputation for “good resources”.

Please note that the ARCH and Salvation Army receive funding for a variety programs to address homelessness. One available program provides housing for 18 months, a job and free health and dental care. The ARCH has a fully staffed medical clinic inside where all medical issues are attended to and once a week St. David’s sends the mobile dental clinic to address any dental needs. The goal of this particular program is to get people back up and running, but it requires that they go to work, save money and follow through on whatever else they need to address such as counseling, job training, and/or substance abuse treatment.

The folks that remain on the street do need help, but many are most likely not open to meeting the goals necessary to receive this particular type of help.  Resources are available, and these folks do a good job of networking with each other so I believe they all know where to obtain the type of services described.  Please take this into consideration before handing over your money directly to these folks as it is not going to discourage the current behavior or actually help in the long run.  There are many community resources that will give a hand up and not a handout.

The ECHO (Ending Community Homelessness Coalition) website includes a list of resources to help our homeless neighbors.  Please refer to:

For other ways you can help, please contact any of the following resources:

Front Steps 512-305-4100

Non-profit organization contracted by the City of Austin to manage Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH)

Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH) 512-305-4100

Owned by the City of Austin-occupied my numerous agencies focused on homelessness


  • Primary medical care
  • Pharmacy/medication
  • Hospital care
  • Vision care
  • Psychiatric services
  • Dental care
  • Counseling/therapy


  • Showers/restrooms/soap/shampoo
  • Laundry facilities/laundry soap
  • Clothing closet
  • Food
  • Phone access with confidential voicemail for job related opportunities
  • Financial assistance provided to provide client with obtaining a Texas ID, Birth Certificate and Texas DPS Mail service
  • Personal lockers/storage
  • Computer lab 7 days a week
  • Town hall meetings held weekly/clients express concerns, suggestions
  • Document bank/secure place to leave original or copies of driver’s license, birth certificates, court orders

Prepared Meals

Employment /job training

Emergency Shelter

  • Life Works 512-735-2400 (homeless and at risk youth age 18 and under)

Housing resources


WBNA  received this suggestion from neighbor Ronald C. Robinder <>.

I agree in general with Faye and appreciate her comments.  I would like to add a note on a way that folks can help and be sure that the help is not misused.  My wife and I often decide to have a roast beef sandwich for dinner.  It costs less to purchase three than to purchase two, so I get three and hand one out to a person on the corner.  That saves me a little money and I know that it will likely be eaten and not just used for alcohol or drugs.  My suggestion is that someone who feels they wish to help can provide a sandwich, burger, taco, etc. for about the same amount they might donate as cash.

2 thoughts on “Resources for the Homeless

  1. St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church (corner of Wells Branch Parkway and Wells Port Drive) also provides a food pantry and shower service the second Saturday of each month.

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