Of the 7,000 people experiencing homelessness in Austin, 40 percent of them have been homeless for more than one year. In February 2017, Mayor Steve Adler and Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo partnered with the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) to address homelessness in Austin. ECHO brought together members of the community and came up with a plan to expand the homelessness response system in the city and to make sure when citizens are homeless, it’s rare, brief and, non-recurring. Austin is creating a system that will help citizens learn more about homelessness and identify ways for volunteers to become more involved.
Austin has been a member of the Cities of Service coalition since 2009, when former Mayor Lee Leffingwell signed the Declaration of Service. Current Mayor Steve Adler reaffirmed the city’s commitment to service when he signed the Declaration again in 2015.
Mayor Kirk Watson
Three decades, Kirk Watson has been immersed in public policy, spanning local and state government in Texas. He served in the Texas Senate for over 13 years, leading on a wide range of issues and serving as a member and vice-chair of multiple standing and special committees and the Sunset Advisory Commission. His peers elected him President Pro Tempore of the Senate in 2019.
Watson was appointed in 1991 by Gov. Ann Richards as Chair of the Texas Air Control Board, the agency charged with addressing air quality issues. He was Vice-Chair of the committee that oversaw creation of the agency now known as the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
He was first elected Austin mayor in 1997, where he won praise for bringing different political sides together around transformative environmental and economic development initiatives. In 2012, serving in the Texas Senate, he led the effort to build a new medical school at The University of Texas at Austin.