Faces Behind the Budget Cuts

Recently, the Texas Observer featured a story on one of our clients – Justin Carr. Justin, a youth in need, is one of the many faces behind the budget cuts.

At eighteen years old, Justin was left by his mother to provide for himself. With only an 8th grade education and no support system, Justin’s story could’ve had a familiar ending: homelessness, substance abuse and a host of other problems. However, Justin is enrolled in FootSteps.

FootSteps is a program provided by LifeWorks that offers permanent housing and food to small groups of destabilized young adults, ages 18 to 24. Because of the program, Justin has opportunites that wouldn’t be available otherwise:  living  in a duplex with a roommate, working toward his GED and talking to a therapist once a week. Additionally, Justin has a  job coach who is helping him form a career plan.

FootSteps provides individuals with stability, safety, and success . That is, if the program isn’t affected by the budget cuts.

The program is able to provide clients with the help they  need thanks to the $170,000 grant, which was provided by the Department of Housing and Community Affairs. Given the proposed budget cut, the city of Austin would no longer be able to support the program, which could be detrimental. How would Carr and other individuals in the program battle homelessness and not  having basic needs?

In the Texas Observer interview Justin said “Honestly, without the program, I don’t know where I’d be. I guess I’d be on the streets.”

Although FootSteps costs $21,000 per person Susan McDowell, LifeWorks Executive Director, believes that FootSteps is a vital program that’s crucial to implementing the mission we have at LifeWorks.“We are cutting off a pipeline to chronic homelessness,” she says, “which costs our community millions and millions of dollars.”

Let’s hope that this proposed budget cut won’t actually include the FootSteps program. Justin can’t afford it and neither can the city of Austin.

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