Central Austin Edition - February 2020

CENTRAL AUSTIN EDITION

VOLUME 12, ISSUE 4  FEB. 27MARCH 25, 2020

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HOMELESSNESS Austin wants to end youth homelessness by the end of 2020, which has placed a new focus on the growing pipeline of youth leaving foster care and entering homelessness. The young,

Unprecedented eort tries to untie foster care, homelessness It had been over a year since Michaela Sullins aged out of the Texas foster care system—a system she had known since she was left in a dumpster at age 3— and her struggle to nd stability continued. She was 19, pregnant and alone in the midst of her second and most prolonged bout of homelessness, and she returned to Central Texas hoping to reach members of her biological family. But in the house where her sister lived, Michaela said secondhand methamphetamine smoke regu- larly lled the air. Almost as quickly as she arrived Michaela ed to a friend’s place in Austin and, like many homeless young adults, couch surfedwhile try- ing to nd stability for her and her unborn daughter. Now, four months later, Sullins lives in public hous- ing and meets regularly with a caseworker from the local nonprot LifeWorks. She has a job, and her due date is set for late March. Sullins and her caseworker CONTINUED ON 34 BY CHRISTOPHER NEELY In the last 20 years, straight-ticket voting has become increasingly popular. More Travis County Democrats chose the straight-ticket option in 2018 than total votes cast in 1998. 296,518 Democrat votes Republican votes Total votes* LOST ticket

“When I aged out, it was a relief, like, I’m free. No one is going to take awaymy stu anymore or forceme to go into therapy. But then again, I didn’t know anything.” Michaela Sullins

Michaela Sullins, 19, spent 15 years in foster homes across Texas before aging out in 2018. She has since experienced two bouts of homelessness and moved across the country and back. Preparing to begin life as a single mother, Sullins has found some stability in Austin. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)

Nomore straight-ticket voting in Travis County In Nov. 2018, 62% of county voters chose the single-party option

BY JACK FLAGLER

option to press one button to go straight down the ticket to vote for every candidate from one polit- ical party. The Texas Legislature eliminated the straight-party option in 2017 but delayed imple- mentation of the new rule until 2020. Republicans said the move will benet Texans by ensuring voters make more informed choices, while Democrats argue the choice amounts to

Early voting began Feb. 18 for the 2020 primary elections in Texas. When poll results come in on March 3, Travis County voters will know most of the nominees who will appear on their November ballot, where they will make choices for positions from U.S. president to county constable. Unlike past years, when that November elec- tion comes, voters in Texas will no longer have the

0% 20% 40% 60% 80%

116,597

67,061

SOURCE: TRAVIS COUNTY CLERKCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER *DOES NOT INCLUDE STRAIGHTTICKET VOTES CAST FOR LIBERTARIAN OR GREEN PARTIES.

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