USICH Director Presents at SXSW and Meets With Austin Mayor

March 11, 2024
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SXSW 2024
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USICH Director Olivet, far right, participated in a SXSW panel on homelessness along with California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, center right, and Los Angeles Mission President and CEO Troy Vaughn, center left.


Last week, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) Director Jeff Olivet traveled to Austin, Texas, to present at South by Southwest (SXSW), and while in the city, he met with the mayor and local homeless service providers.

At SXSW, Olivet participated in a session called “2050: Reimagining Future Cities Without Homelessness,” along with California Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Los Angeles Mission President and CEO Troy Vaughn. (Click to listen to the session.)

After years of rising before the pandemic, homelessness in Austin declined from 2020 to 2023, according to the Point-in-Time Count released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). But mirroring national trends, homelessness is up in the city among people living in tents, cars, and other unsheltered places—and it is up among people who recently experienced it for the first time. In the last few years, the city increased both shelter and permanent supportive housing beds, and in 2022, the city helped more people experiencing homelessness move into permanent housing than any other year.

Olivet met with Austin Mayor Kirk Watson and separately with the Continuum of Care, which coordinates services for people experiencing homelessness, to discuss their challenges and solutions and how the federal government can help. 

The Biden-Harris administration is committed to working with communities to address the homelessness crisis head-on. HUD invested nearly half a billion dollars last year to help communities (including Austin) address unsheltered and rural homelessness. Meanwhile, the White House and USICH launched the ALL INside Initiative to deploy federal teams and embed federal officials in select mayors’ offices (including Dallas, Texas) to help communities cut red tape and help people move off the streets and into homes. The White House is also prioritizing the biggest root cause of homelessness—the lack of affordable housing—and helped put the country on track last year to build more apartments than any other year in the last 50. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is granting more states the innovative ability to use Medicaid to fund short-term housing and housing-related support for people experiencing homelessness. And during the pandemic, the administration built the foundation for a national eviction system, and HUD provided more federal rental assistance in the last three years than in the previous 20.


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