Front Steps, Inc.

No person in our community should ever have to spend the night on the streets.

Austin, TX   |  www.frontsteps.org

Mission

Front Steps provides a pathway home for our neighbors experiencing homelessness by offering emergency shelter, affordable housing, recuperative medical care, supportive services and community awareness.

Ruling year info

1997

Executive Director

Ms. Terra L. Harris

Main address

PO Box 684519

Austin, TX 78768 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

74-2824054

NTEE code info

Homeless Services/Centers (P85)

Temporary Shelter For the Homeless (L41)

Other Housing, Shelter N.E.C. (L99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Front Steps was formed in 1997 as the Capital Area Homeless Alliance in response to a recommendation of the Community Action Network’s 1996 Comprehensive Plan for Addressing Homelessness. Our philosophy has always been that all people deserve the dignity of a safe place to call home. Front Steps offers a continuum of services that help people transition from homelessness into housing. We have, for two decades, been selected by the City of Austin (via competitive application process) to manage the City’s downtown shelter, the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless/ARCH. In addition to shelter services, Front Steps secures federal and philanthropic funding for programming beyond shelter operations. We expand our reach with in-kind donations to meet the needs of shelter and recently housed clients, volunteer hours, and strategic partnerships to meet essential needs. Our evidence-based programs provide direct services to approximately 4,500 people experiencing homelessness AND placemen

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Downtown Shelter: The ARCH/Austin Resource Center for the Homeless

The Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH) serves as the first point of entry into the homeless service system for many of Austin’s adults experiencing homelessness for the first time, as well as those who have been living on the streets for years. The ARCH is designed to assess client needs, provide information on how and where to access services, and meet the basic emergency needs of homeless adults, as well as provide a place for homeless people to rest and get out of the elements during the day. Over 4,000 individuals experiencing homelessness use Day Services or Night Shelter annually.

At the shelter downtown at 7th and Neches— our staff are providing case management to move clients from street to shelter to stable housing. The shelter is not intended to be housing, but to be a place for individuals to stay while finding a way to move into stable, secure housing. Like a bus terminal or an airport, it is part of the journey, not the destination.

The building, which opened in 2004, includes a large common-use room, showers and locker rooms, laundry facilities, a computer room, and offices for various nonprofit organizations that serve the homeless. A clinic, located on the first floor, provides health services. The second floor houses a large commercial kitchen and dining room. Located on the third floor is the 100-bed overnight shelter.

Co-located agencies make the shelter a one-stop shop where clients can receive support for health, medical, legal, employment and other needs, all under one roof. Clients are encouraged to enroll in transitional services focused on helping them move from homelessness to affordable housing.

Population(s) Served
Homeless people
Extremely poor people
Low-income people
Working poor
Adults

Our Recuperative Care Program is a collaboration between Front Steps and Central Health. Homeless clients who are too sick to be discharged to a shelter or the streets, but not sick enough to warrant acute hospital placement, are placed in a nursing home for the duration of their illness. Front Steps provides intensive case management to address income, housing, and self-care needs.

Following nursing home placement, clients are moved to transitional housing, with ongoing support to assist them in obtaining permanent housing and maintaining their health. Despite long periods of homelessness and lack of involvement in the social service system prior to entering the program, the Recuperative Care clients have demonstrated great success in achieving goals, such as obtaining government disability benefits, becoming clean and sober, and re-establishing contact with family, and have largely been able to remain housed and out of the hospital systems.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Working poor
Low-income people
Homeless people
Extremely poor people

Our Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) provides long-term housing with ongoing case management for clients leaving the streets/shelters and not yet able to be fully independent. Permanent supportive housing is a proven solution to homelessness for the most vulnerable chronically homeless people–pairing housing with case management and supportive services. The PSH model is evidence-based, having proved the cost/benefit of providing housing and reducing the negative consequences of drug/alcohol use rather than requiring that clients solve their problems with substance abuse, mental illness and poverty while they are still homeless. The primary goal of PSH case management is to ensure clients remain housed and do not return to homelessness. Other goals include increasing income, developing self-care skills in the areas of mental and physical health, developing positive relationships, and becoming an active and contributing member of a community.

Population(s) Served

In Austin, over 900 Veterans have been housed and Veteran homelessness is down significantly since 2011 when Veterans accounted for over 14% of the homeless population. Currently, Veterans account for less than 3% of the homeless population. Texas has the second highest concentration of veterans in the nation and Austin is one of five areas of veteran concentration in the state. In 2016 the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness certified Austin as having effectively ended Veteran Homelessness. When we say we have “functionally ended” Veteran homelessness, we have reached a point where we are housing more Veterans than those who are being identified as homeless. This means that any Veteran who becomes homeless and wants housing will move into permanent housing within an average of 90 days of connecting with our community-based response system.

Support Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) is made possible with funding to Front Steps from the US Department of Veterans Affairs. SSVF provides short term, rapid rehousing assistance with intensive case management to very low-income veteran families to obtain stable permanent housing. The SSVF program focuses on intensive case management to help participants increase their ability to sustain permanent housing and reach their greatest potential. Housing Stability Specialists will work with veteran families to identify their housing stability goals such as locating affordable rental housing, obtaining or maintaining employment, budgeting, or applying for VA and public benefits. In addition to working with a Housing Stability Specialist, the SSVF program is able to provide temporary financial assistance to the veteran household for some expenses relating to housing stability.


Our Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program (HVRP) is funded by the US Department of Labor. We work with veterans to secure employment, refer individuals to the Veterans Administration for benefits, and provide transitional or permanent housing to veteran households. Separation from the services, an event unique to veterans, is a major life change that may precipitate homelessness when the service person is insufficiently prepared for civilian life. Difficulty readjusting to civilian life frequently precedes a period of homelessness. Lack of employment, or underemployment, has also put housing out of reach for many veterans.

“Housing for Texas Heroes” funding from the Texas Veterans Commission allows Front Steps to diversify services currently provided to very low-income, homeless Veterans and their families. This project will work alongside and provide services not currently provided by “Supportive Services for Veterans/Families” (SSVF) funding from the VA. Our SSVF program focuses on intensive case management to help participants increase their ability to sustain permanent housing and reach their greatest potential. Housing Stability Specialists work with Veterans to identify housing stability goals such as locating affordable rental housing, obtaining or maintaining employment, budgeting, or applying for Veterans Administration (VA) and public benefits. We have funding for short term, rapid rehousing assistance to very low-income veteran families to obtain stable permanent housing and temporary financial assistance to veteran’s households for some expenses relating to housing stability. Department of Labor funding for our “Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program” allows us to provide job training and placement services that allows Veterans to secure and maintain stable housing.

Services for Veterans and their families are based out of our Veterans Services Office at 2211 South IH35 Suite 301 Austin, TX 78741.

Population(s) Served

Rapid rehousing provides short-term rental assistance and services. The goals are to help people obtain housing quickly, increase self- sufficiency, and stay housed. It is offered without preconditions (such as employment, income, absence of criminal record, or sobriety) and the resources and services provided are typically tailored to the needs of the person.

Rapid re-housing is a primary solution for ending homelessness. It has been demonstrated to be effective in getting people experiencing homelessness into permanent housing and keeping them there. By connecting people with a home, they are in a better position to address other challenges that may have led to their homelessness, such as obtaining employment or addressing substance abuse issues. The intervention has also been effective for people traditionally perceived to be more difficult to serve, including people with limited or no income and survivors of domestic violence.

Research demonstrates that those who receive rapid re-housing assistance are homeless for shorter periods of time than those assisted with shelter or transitional housing. Rapid re-housing is also less expensive than other homeless interventions, such as shelter or transitional housing.

Population(s) Served

AmeriCorps is an effective private-public partnership. Grants from The Corporation for National and Community Service, are used by schools, non-profits, faith-based groups, and others to strengthen communities across the nation.

Keep Austin Housed places 35 full-time Americorps members at ten different non-profits in Austin, Texas, where they work directly with individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless. Keep Austin Housed members help more than 250 individuals obtain safe, stable, and affordable housing each year. We work for Austin, and we want you to be a part of it!

Population(s) Served
Adults
Working poor
Low-income people
Homeless people
Extremely poor people
Adults
Working poor
Low-income people
Homeless people
Extremely poor people
Adults
Working poor
Low-income people
Homeless people
Extremely poor people
Adults
Working poor
Low-income people
Homeless people
Extremely poor people

Where we work

Affiliations & memberships

Association of Fundraising Professionals - Member 2009

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of individual clients sleeping in shelter in a year

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Homeless people, Extremely poor people, Low-income people, Veterans, People with disabilities

Related Program

Downtown Shelter: The ARCH/Austin Resource Center for the Homeless

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Decreasing

Context Notes

Starting in 2020, COVID safety precautions have changed traffic patterns at shelters, we cannot maintain pre-COVID numbers for night sleep clients and still have sufficient distancing in place.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Front Steps is working to end homelessness in our community. Through our shelter services, rapid-rehousing and housing programs, recuperative care program, and permanent supporting housing work we are moving individuals from streets/shelter into stable and sustainable housing.

Front Steps currently provides assistance to persons experiencing homelessness in the following ways: 1) Shelter Services (Case Management to secure housing, Meal, Shower and Bed nightly to adult men) and day resources (basic needs center) and case management 2) Housing Services: Transitional, Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) and Rapid Rehousing (RR) 3) Recuperative Care Program (extended respite for homeless individuals too sick to return to streets after hospitalization) and 4) Housing and Employment Services to Veterans (Rapid Rehousing and Employment Re-integration).

Our staff of eighty-five reached 4,250 clients last year across our core programming. Every client has unique needs when we meet them, and Housing Plans are created based on what is likely to work best. Individuals become homeless for any number of reasons—not everyone has savings, a safety net of friends or family, or skills to recover from a setback or a series of gradual losses. Solutions can be as complex as causes, and availability of deeply affordable spaces is an ever-present challenge. Still, every success motivates our staff and clients to continue to create Housing Plans and work them until success is achieved.

Housing Plans are part of the work with every client. Many shelters in many places across the country were designed to be a place for sleeping so individuals weren’t on the streets. Over the years, shelters became default housing for many individuals, though that was never the intention. The goal of emergency shelter should be to focus on re-connecting people to housing as quickly as possible–Housing First.

(From the National Alliance to End Homelessness) Housing First is a homeless assistance approach that prioritizes providing permanent housing to people experiencing homelessness, thus ending their homelessness and serving as a platform from which they can pursue personal goals and improve their quality of life. This approach is guided by the belief that people need basic necessities like food and a place to live before attending to anything less critical, such as getting a job, budgeting properly, or attending to substance use issues. Additionally, Housing First is based on the theory that client choice is valuable in housing selection and supportive service participation, and that exercising that choice is likely to make a client more successful in remaining housed and improving their life. Housing First does not require people experiencing homelessness to address the all of their problems including behavioral health problems, or to graduate through a series of services programs before they can access housing. Housing First does not mandate participation in services either before obtaining housing or in order to retain housing. The Housing First approach views housing as the foundation for life improvement and enables access to permanent housing without prerequisites or conditions beyond those of a typical renter. Supportive services are offered to support people with housing stability and individual well-being, but participation is not required as services have been found to be more effective when a person chooses to engage. Other approaches do make such requirements in order for a person to obtain and retain housing.

With this in mind, last year Front Steps made a change in our shelter service delivery. It became a requirement that ALL clients sleeping at the shelter enroll in case management.

Front Steps has been instrumental in making the homeless population of Veterans in Austin literally solved, meaning that with the occurance of a new Veteran and their family presenting as homeless, there is a plan in place to get them housed in a matter of weeks.

Financials

Front Steps, Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Front Steps, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 4/1/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Dwayne Banks

Facebook

Term: 2020 - 2023

Sabelyn Pussman

Editor

Dwayne Banks

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Shirelle Zachery

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Haggai Eshed

Community Member

D'uan Davis

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Jessie Metcalf

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Pranava Bethi

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Tenille Hamilton-Carpenter

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Sarah Eckhardt

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Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 04/01/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Black/African American/African
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data