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Memorial for slain homeless woman serves as springboard for advocacy

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TWC News: Memorial for slain homeless woman serves as springboard for advocacy
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A memorial service for a homeless woman found murdered near a park bench served as a springboard for a new campaign to find safe places for others like her to sleep.

Candles, flowers and stuffed animals graced the bench next to the area where police found the body of Valerie Godoy earlier this month. At the Saturday afternoon memorial, homeless advocates called on the City of Austin to create a shelter exclusively for homeless women.

A headcount of Austin's homeless completed two years ago showed about 4,000 homeless people in Austin.

House the Homeless president Richard Troxell says women make up the fastest growing part of that population and they come from all walks of life, and all education levels.

"Partly because of mental health concerns, partly because of substance abuse problems and a huge part, a majority, just because of economics,” Troxell said. “We've got a federal minimum wage that is so low that people can have a full time job and not be able to afford basic food, clothing and shelter.”

Troxell says the city's main shelter, Austin Resources Center for the Homeless, does provide services for women during the day, but only shelters men overnight. He says other shelters that do sleep women have low capacity and are constantly full.

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