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Rising Austin homeless population elevates safety concerns

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TWC News: Rising Austin homeless population elevates safety concerns
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It is estimated that on any given night in Austin, 2,000 people call the city’s streets home. However, that number could be as high as 5,800, according to county records.

The Salvation Army works to help the homeless. The nonprofit’s communications director, Randy Allen, says there has been more people needing its services lately.

"Occasionally you'll see someone who is dressed well and you can see that he is new to the situation," Allen said. "We've been seeing an increase, a little bit bigger than we have been seeing."

Last year, the Salvation Army served more than 337,000 meals, filling 11,000 beds.

For those living outside the norms of society, staying alert is the path to survival. One 25-year-old YNN spoke to, who chose to remain faceless, said she expects to sleep outside Monday night. More than 620 other females will have refuge in an assisted shelter.

The homeless woman points to the unsolved June murder of 34-year-old transient, Valerie Godoy, as evidence that more crime is affecting people just like her.

"Somebody is out there just trying to do this stuff and it doesn't make sense," she said.

Cmdr. Troy Gay with the Austin Police Department says as the population continues to grow, it’s important for the homeless population have to find areas that our safer than others.

"Some of the places that may be the best for them to hang out may be the worst places for them to be victims of crime," he said.

After the first of the year, new numbers should be released that will paint a better picture of just how large Austin's homeless population is.

According to APD, 83 percent of the people they help are able to transition to safe housing. Another 76 percent are helped to improve their employment.

Austin police say the investigation continues in the two unsolved murders of homeless people this year.

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