HTH Says goodbye to dear supporter

Tomie Holmes, 74, passed away this week.  He has been a generous support of House the Homless for years.  You will be missed dear friend. 

God’s Speed,

Richard, Sylvia, Colleen and the Folks at HTH


HTH Response to “Quality of Life Ordinances”

Once again, the business community in Austin, Texas (any business community USA) is pushing a Quality of Life Ordinance targeting homeless citizens. The following is our response that has resulted in the Council Member carrying this bill to stop the push.

See the pdf copy of Richard’s recent writings in response to the City of Austin considering more “quality of life Ordinances” in the downtown area-



HTH Smashes Homeless Myth with Survey Results

January 7, 2008 
House the Homeless Smashes Homeless Myth
— House the Homeless, Inc. & Keep Austin Housed AmeriCorps Survey Report 1/7/08 
On December 25, 2007, House the Homeless and Americorps joined forces at the House the Homeless 8th Annual Thermal Underwear Distribution Party and conducted a survey. Invited to participate were over 600 people who were provided life saving thermal underwear and other winter clothing. 526 people experiencing homelessness voluntarily responded to the survey. Note. A total of 19 additional surveys were discarded as being unintelligible.
Survey Results — 
Q: Do you work? 
yes: 199
no: 327
non-responses: 0
37.8% are working.

Hours of work ranged from 2-3 hours per day to 40+ per week
Q: Do you want to work?
yes; 472
no: 48
6 non-responses
89.7% want to work.

Of those responding, 90.8% want to work.
Q: What is keeping you from working?
Ranked in order of highest importance:

health issues 62
can’t find work 60
disabled 56
no identification 50
economics/ low wages 21
“me” 18
transportation 17
criminal history/legal 16
need tools/clothes 10
lack experience/education 7
retired/age 6
weather 5
day care 4
new to area 4
personal problems 4
time 2
undocumented 2
ethical concerns 1

Note: Several people cited more than one barrier.
Q: Would you work a 40 hour week job if you were sure it would pay you enough for basic food, clothing, and shelter? 
yes: 468
no: 48
non-responses: 10
89% would work a 40 hour week for living wages.

Of those responding, 90.7% would work 40 hours for a living wage.
Q: Do you get disability benefits?
yes: 100
no: 426
non-responses: 0
19% receive disability benefits.
Q: Do you have photo ID?
yes: 360
no: 164
non-responses: 2
31.2% need photo identification.

Of those responding, 31.3% need photo ID.
Q: What is keeping you from getting ID?
Ranked in order of highest importance.

1. need ID documents to get photo ID 39
2. costs 38
3. application pending 8
3. no reason “me” 8
3. criminal record 8
4. don’t want to miss work 2
5. hopelessness 1
5. time 1
5. health issue (brain injured) 1
Q: Are you a Veteran?
yes: 121
no: 401
non-responses: 4
23% are Veterans.

Of those responding, 23.2% are Veterans.
Note: 399 signed the survey with either their first name, last name, or both. This was optional.
Note: Statistical significance of the survey: 
The Austin Area Homeless Task Force counted 4,000 people experiencing homelessness in the Austin Area in 2007. With 526 homeless people surveyed, 13.1% of the population was sampled.
If the population of people experiencing homelessness is 6,000 then 8.76% of the population was sampled.

Richard R. Troxell, President of House the Homeless, Inc has declared these to be “Stunning results with national implications!” He went on to say that “Although homeless, over 38% of of these people are working at some point during the week. This means that the Puritan Work Ethic is in tact. Furthemore, it is now clear that what is lacking for many of them to end their homelessness is a Living Wage Job.” 
Mr Troxell is also the National Chairman of the Universal Living Wage Campaign.


Criminalization of Homeless Cycle

Click below to read a pdf copy of Richard’s latest white paper about the nature of criminalization of homlessness across the nation.



Local Jobs Initiative Model Project

May 16, 2009
Local Jobs Initiative Model Project
Living Wage Jobs Stimulus Proposal for People Experiencing Homelessness

On May 21, 2009, House the Homeless, Inc., the Texas Homeless Network and the Ending Community Homelessness Organization will host the Let’s Get to Work Forum and Initiative. The forum, comprised of elected officials, employment and human service experts from Texas and across the U.S., discussed how other communities have developed pathways to employment and housing for persons experiencing homelessness.


A multi-organizational Work Collaborative of Businesses, Faith Based organizations and Non-profits in the City of Austin, TX.   A 20 person model.

There are many individuals, our neighbors, who for various reasons (many economic) find themselves experiencing homelessness.  Many of these individuals welcome any opportunity to learn new skills, attain work and earn a self-supporting wage. Traditional avenues of job training and placement are overwhelmed with the current demand for their assistance serving only one in ten applicants at best. The Texas Work Force Commission readily acknowledges that it can only begin to serve the most prepared and capable job seekers. The “Let’s Get to Work Initiative” wishes to address the wasted human potential evidenced by our burgeoning shelters and people standing on our street corners asking for help and work. Statistical surveys conducted by the City of Houston, the City of Austin and two by the House The Homeless organization, all indicate a high desire to work by this population and to work at jobs that pay fair, living wages. We recognize that these individuals are the least qualified and the least capable of entering a traditional re-entry work program. This is a special population with special needs.

The current response to homelessness is to house people temporarily in shelters and then move them into “transitional housing” where they are provided a case worker whose job it is to stabilize their condition, help them attain their independence, and return them to the regular housing and work market.  Unfortunately, the Federal Minimum Wage (currently at $7.25 per hour) will not afford them basic rental housing and so they are unable to “transition out.” Compounding the problem; there has been a tremendous resistance by neighborhoods to the creation and placement of any transitional housing.  The result has been a Continuum of Care system that is incapable of serving the very purpose for which it was intended.

The “Let’s Get to Work Initiative” is intended to solve these problems.  After assessing skill levels, applicants in shelters and in transitional living situations are offered an opportunity to earn a work certificate in about 20 areas of employment (i.e. solar panel installer or phlebotomist, etc.).  By coordinating with local employers, certificate earners and other system graduates, working through a Program Coordinator, are placed in a job. Because the expected level of earning will be at, or just above the minimum wage level, a wage subsidy will be provided the individual.  This will raise their wage to a Living Wage. Program supports will continue up to 18 months or until full self-sufficiency/ economic stability is achieved.


This problem is being played out in Austin and cities all across America. The problem of homelessness requires that all community members become community partners. This involves community activists, businesses and faith based organizations. Just as important as it is for businesses to partner with us and employ folks with long work layoffs, we need members of our faith-based community to involve their congregations.  We envision this to be a somewhat costly, long term investment to end homelessness for individuals.  We are seeking a personalized and individualized relationship between one Program Participant, the Program Manager and a Community Sponsoring Organization.  In this scenario, we see a one-on-one relationship where all three entities share their stories, their hopes, their fears and their progress along the way.

20 Person Model


Program Manager $35,000 add $5,000 admin costs=$40,000.

Living Wage Supports (Difference between the FMW and the Universal Living Wage) $982 per month

Transitional Housing Costs: $1800. per person-one time cost (deposit, 1st and last month’s rent

Misc.: One time cost per Individual: $200.00 i.e. steel toed shoes, hard hat, etc.

Education:  $54 per credit hour   i.e. $2000 to become Fire fighter

Preparedness Training for Workers: ie Literacy, job applications, resume prep, budgeting etc.



Case Management


Ends Economic Homelessness for each success story

Creates a Ready, Willing, Able and Stable Work Force

Involves the Business Community of Austin in the solution of ending homelessness

Strategically connects the Faith Based Community with those in need in their community

Frees bollixed up valuable transitional housing

Completes the COA Continuum of Care process

Provides opportunity, a pathway, and hope, for people experiencing homelessness


Thermal Underwear Party New Year’s Day

Richard and homeyGreetings!
The close of the House the Homeless Memorial (17th), signaled the Launch of the Thermal Underwear Drive (10th).  We continue to raise $ so we can outfit folks for the winter who will not be coming in from the cold.
$10.00 gets a Thermal top and Bottom
$25.00 gets a Thermal top/bottom, knit hat, gloves, socks AND Rain Poncho (Choice of two thicknesses) PLUS a light lunch will also be provided. PLUS Live Music-The Rockin South Austin Gospel Band-What a deal!!!!
The Thermal Underwear Givaway Party is set for Jan 1st 12:00noon-2:00pm
Location:  First Baptist Church at 901 Trinity St.  Free parking on the holiday.  (Two blocks north of the ARCH)
Donations to House the Homeless  PO Box 2312 Austin TX 78768  or
Donations will be accepted until December 31st.


New Years Day Fun!

Citizens across Texas and the U.S. rally to support us and our efforts to protect our homeless citizens from dying of hypothermia this winter. Wow!

Support has been received from neighbors in:

Austin, Paige, West Lake Hills, Rollingwood, San Marcos, Georgetown, Hutto, Logo Vista, Round Rock, Pflugerville, Buda, Dripping Springs, Cedar Park, Bastrop, Manor, Temple, Amarillo, Alpine, Leander, The Hills, Driftwood, Dale, Del Rio, Midland, Dallas, and Giddings Texas.

Across the country we have received support from Norfolk, NE; Kansas City, MO; Falls Church, VA; Lawndale, CA; South Verlington, VT; Somerville, MA; Princeton, NJ; Elkins Park, PA; Jenkintown, PA; Hopkins, MN; and Washington, DC.

Please join us in our efforts to reach out and protect our 4,400 homeless folks in the Austin area with only 600 emergency beds! We can save lives with thermal underwear. Only $10.00 will purchase a thermal top and bottom. $25.00 will fully outfit a person in thermal top, bottom, hat, gloves, socks, and a rain poncho. Please continue to give generously.