There are numerous homeless support systems in place in Austin. It is not uncommon to hear those who don’t work directly with individuals experiencing homelessness express the opinion that our city does more than enough in the aid of these individuals. One visit to the ARCH (Austin Resource Center for the Homeless) tells a different story. Many of the staff are undertrained and underpaid. Often, when staff gain enough experience to truly be effective in their roles, they move on to higher paying positions with other organizations. Further, many of the tools said to be provided by Front Steps, the organization responsible for managing the ARCH, like phones and washers, are functioning in highly limited capacities. These services of the ARCH are listed in the contract between the City of Austin and Front Steps (http://www.austintexas.gov/edims/document.cfm?id=179706). As the City of Austin grants the ARCH contract to the lowest bidder (Bidding regulations for the City of Austin can be found here: http://www.austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/files/Contract_Management/Construction_Bid_Docs/00100__02.04.15_.pdf), it is in the best interest of a homeless organization to slash costs wherever possible in order to win said contract. Naturally, we want our city to spend as little of our tax dollars as is needed. But our system fails when we have homeless organizations willing to cut needed services and staff pay in order to win such a grant. Certain standards must be required of the organization responsible for managing the ARCH. It is time Front Steps stop working as a revolving door for underpaid staff and start paying staff enough to stick around. It is time Front Steps work as effective keepers of the ARCH or we let someone else do a better job.
Sign the petition here: ARCH Petition