House the Homeless, Inc., founded in 1989, is the oldest, all volunteer, action organization in Texas working to prevent and end homelessness. Our mission is education and advocacy around issues of homelessness. Our goal is prevention and doable solutions, including how to end to economic homelessness here and across the nation. HtH considers all homeless and formerly homeless individuals to be members of this 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit corporation. We strive to ensure that the makeup of our Board of Directors generally not fall below 50% of individuals who were formerly homeless or are currently experiencing homelessness.
Our 2021 secured and re-designed website1 is a major upgrade to the original site, launched in the early 1990’s. It now has a full SEARCH function with archived, yet relevant, postings by year. The site holds myth busters and White Papers, authored by Richard R. Troxell, that advocate policies, collaboration, and the political will to prevent and end homelessness as we know it. More than band-aids, solutions address economic homelessness, Traumatic Brain Injury, need for a workers hotel, our Let’s Get to Work collaborative and more.
In 1992, we created the House the Homeless Memorial Site on Town Lake, known as Auditorium Shores, at the Ann and Roy Butler Hike & Bike Trail. As a lasting, living memorial, we planted and maintain a still flourishing Live Oak Tree on this SACRED ground. In 2020, at least 256 men, women, children and a baby died while homeless in our community, with their names draped on the Tree for future visitation. Thirty years ago, that number was 27! Over the years, HtH added to site, with two commemorative plaques and a bench. For nearly 30 years, HtH has annually conducted a citywide Sunrise Memorial Service. Caritas of Austin provided the Memorial Service virtually in 2020 amid the pandemic that prevented the customary gathering on Auditorium Shores.
Learn more about our Education and Advocacy
Board of Directors
Founder & National Education Director
Richard R. Troxell, Founder/ Past President & National Education Director (NED). Richard is a United States Marine and Viet Nam Veteran, who has been striving to end homelessness since he first experienced it as a 3 year lived experience following the war. Hired straight from the streets by Legal Aid he created a direct impact program and became a mortgage foreclosure preventionist in Philadelphia in the 1980s. From 1989-2018, he served as the creator and inaugural Director of Legal Aid for the Homeless/Rio Grande Legal Aide, with daily interaction with disabled citizens of Austin experiencing homelessness. Gaining widespread support, he is actively promoting Livable Incomes with a Living Wage for those able to work (fix the Federal Minimum Wage utilizing the formula which he created to be indexed on the cost of housing wherever a person lives and works; and fixing the SSI stipend for those who cannot work due disability. He crafted the National Homeless Criminalization Cycle based on the Quality of Life Ordinances. He orchestrated the nations only agreement on the No Sit/No Lie Ordinance incorporating accommodations as identified in the Americans With Disabilities Act. Richard is the author of Looking Up at the Bottom Line- The Struggle for the Living Wage, and Livable Incomes, Real Solutions that Stimulate the Economy, Striking A Balance (Gentrification) and other writings. He is working on his fourth book, Short Stories on a Long Journey to be released later in 2021. His life’s work has been recognized by HUD, Texas Governor Ann Richards, the Pennsylvania Senate and the United Nations. He has also received the Five Who Care Award and the JC Penny Golden Rule Award, the Fred Butler Award / Community Advancement Network, The National Coalition for the Homeless-The Beverly “Ma” Curtis Award, among countless others. On behalf of HtH and the City of Austin he designed a paradigm change for homeless service delivery and secured a $100,000 grant from former Texas Governor George Bush for a jobs component for people experiencing homeless. He authored the National Homeless Protected Class Resolution during his service on the Board of Directors for the National Coalition for the Homeless 1997-to date. Richard earned his Bachelor’s degree from St. Edward’s University, is a graduate of the Lauterstein-Conway Massage School. He is a world traveler/explorer, collector of American Iron tools dating back to the early 1700s and continues to preserve our culture by collecting hand-blown American glass bottles also dating to the early 1700s (pre American Revolution). Conceived of and first sculpted and secured funding for the first Home Coming homeless statue now located at Community First! Village in Austin Texas. He then raised funding and created a second statue now in a warehouse in Washington DC where he will site it after COVID-19 has ended. He is a lifetime learner and family man.
Co-founder PRESIDENT / Treasurer
Cecilia Blanford, MAHS, GPC. Cecilia is the co-founder, president and treasurer. She previously established the Servants Heart Ministry at her church. She and her son, Kevin Blanford, helped Richard to establish House the Homeless in 1989…
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Cecilia Blanford, MAHS, GPC. Cecilia is the co-founder, president and treasurer. She previously established the Servants Heart Ministry at her church. She and her son, Kevin Blanford, helped Richard to establish House the Homeless in 1989. She earned a Bachelor’s in Liberal Studies and a Master’s in Human Services, with triple concentrations in Nonprofit Administration, Social and Psychological Service, and in Counseling from St. Edward’s University. Her “paid” position is that of Grants Specialist for Ascension Seton, 2011-present, following 11 years as Grant Director for Lutheran Social Services (Upbring) and several years as executive director of El Camino Girl Scout Council and Austin Community Nursery Schools (MainSpring).
VP & Chaplain
Will Hyatt, Vice Chair and Chaplain/Ministry Coordinator, graduated Southwestern University in Georgetown and, for over 30 years, has been an arborist working with trees and land design…
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Will Hyatt, Vice Chair and Chaplain/Ministry Coordinator, graduated Southwestern University in Georgetown and, for over 30 years, has been an arborist working with trees and land design. He also became the Coordinator of Open-Door Ministry at University Methodist Church and began volunteering with the homeless and veterans at several university area churches, networking with many. He currently helps with Hungry for God, a church for orphans in Garfield, and is planting a small church in San Marcos. Will has represented HtH at recent City Council and other timely meetings.
Blythe Plunkett, Officer and Webmaster. Blythe is a native Austinite who has worked with Austin’s homeless for the past 24 years. It became more than a casual act after working as a corrections officer and seeing how impacting small circumstances can be on one’s life…
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Blythe Plunkett, Officer and Webmaster. Blythe is a native Austinite who has worked with Austin’s homeless for the past 24 years. It became more than a casual act after working as a corrections officer and seeing how impacting small circumstances can be on one’s life. She most recently worked with Project Transitions as a Volunteer and Facilities Manager. Other experience includes employment, advisory and board positions with CommUnityCare, Downtown Austin Community Court, ECHO, Mobile Loaves & Fishes and the Austin Poverty Initiative. Blythe returned to the private sector employment in 2020 and remains active on the House the Homeless and several other nonprofit organizations.
Greg Gibson, MAC, MAHS, A highly qualified advocate and mental health professional, Greg has 30 years of experience working with local, state and national organizations that focus on the development, implementation, and operation of health and human services. He has exceptional expertise and experience with populations that are without a regular means of shelter who also cope with serious mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders. Greg works for Austin/Travis County Integral Care with previous employment with Texas Homeless Network. Greg received a bachelor’s in Psychology from Midwestern State University; and graduated from St. Edward’s University with a Master’s of Arts in Human Services and concentration in Social and Psychological Services. Greg is also a veteran having served as a Medical Non-Commissioned officer in the Army Reserve.
Jo Ann Koepke, Member-at-Large. Since 2001, Jo Ann has served on the Board, primarily as Secretary, since 1992. For 28 of these years, she managed all databases and helped Ricard with contacts and Universal Living Wage campaign endorsements for its founder, Richard R. Troxell. She asserts that her “…heart and soul is in my work with House the Homeless, Inc.; and even though I am no longer in Austin, TX, I still support the data bases and help get donations (primarily food) for our events.”
In medical research, Jo Ann did biochemistry analysis of kidney function tests, neuromechanics, and in cardiology research. She also worked in nursing. Jo Ann received her bachelor’s degree from Wayne State College in English, Chemistry and Biology. Despite many challenges, she uses her talents as an artist, pianist, author, master gardener, and advocate to empower and help others. She earned a Master’s of Women’s Studies from Norwich University. She is “mom” to two daughters sponsored through ChildFund International with lifelong relationship.
Danny was elected to the Board in 2020 after two years of active volunteer participation including the Thermals Party. His involvement with House the Homeless dates back to the early 1990s, volunteering intermittently here as well as in his hometown of San Angelo, Texas. He retired after a career in electronics, including work with Cisco, Motorola, Samsung and others; and still loves a good round of golf. He received his certification in electronics from Durham-Nixon-Clay after attending Angelo State University.
Originally from New York and attending law school in Europe, Kevyn has served on the House the Homeless board for two decades. Having experienced homelessness, he continues to be a strong advocate for housing, jobs, and decriminalizing homelessness.
Advisory Board / Key Volunteer
P.J. Liles, Past President, moved to Austin in 1998 where he started the Poet’s Pantry with Tom the World Poet, monthly donating to Safe Place and Casa Marianella over 200 lbs. of canned goods collected at Open Mics as entry to poetry events. He started Operation Warm in 2010 to collect jackets and recyclable household goods for HtH and SafePlace. He began working with HtH in 2006 as bandleader with Rockin’ Gospel Project at HtH’s annual HUGSS event & Thermal Giveaway. He served as President during the transitional year when the Troxell’s moved to North Carolina. P.J. has since retired after 11 years at Austin State Hospital (ASH) in Maintenance and then Canteen Director. He is regularly working in the streets of Austin to meet the people “where they are at” – building relations with homeless individuals, garnering in-kind or collaborative support.
Sylvia Troxell, Advisory Board. After 18 years as Special Education teacher at Eanes Independent School District, Sylvia relocated to North Carolina where she and Richard could be closer to their daughter, Colleen Troxell. Sylvia graduated from The University of Texas at Arlington with a degree in Instruction and Curriculum and with a degree in Special Education from La Salle University. For three decades, she has supported the mission of House the Homeless. For many of those years, she has directed more than 100 volunteers at our annual HUGS Thermal Party where she prepared much of the food in First Baptist Austin’s kitchen. Sylvia led Hill Country Middle School students with their parents and teachers in raising more than $34,000 for House the Homeless. Sylvia has also served as webmaster, board recording secretary. She and Richard have made and continue to make hundred of personalized masks during COVID-19, and she has helped in countless other ways. She continues to serve on the House the Homeless Advisory Board.
Universal Living Wage
In 1997, Richard R. Troxell created a unique formula that fixes the Federal Minimum Wage. Using existing government guidelines, a three pronged formula was devised that ensures that a person who works 40 hours in a week (be it from one job or more), will be able to afford basic food, clothing, and shelter (utilities included) wherever that work is done throughout the United States.
In April 2001, the Universal Living Wage Campaign was launched and simultaneously went on line at www.UniversalLivingWage.org Note. ULW is a committee of House the Homeless, Inc. In total, 43,000 letters were sent to Unions, Faith Based Organizations, Non-Profits and Businesses. This created a data base of endorsing entities.
Also in 2001, we held our 1st National Day of Action. We gathered at US Post Offices in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Supporting the actions, the campaign raises funds and distributes 4’by 10’ banners and red and white yard signs both directing people to the Universal Living Wage website and the campaign.
We later created a second National Day of Action: Bridge the Economic Gap Day. We get on the bridges of America with slightly different banners (which the campaign again supplies) with participants on at least one bridge in every state in the union. We again direct people to the Universal Living Wage Website and Campaign.
In October 2010, we released the book, Looking Up at the Bottom Line…The Struggle for the Living Wage. Copies were sent to every member of Congress.
In 2013, HtH produced a White Paper: Preventing Homelessness at its Core; Living Wages, Livable Incomes and Discharge No one into Homelessness.
In 2014, HtH is updating and re-issuing the White Paper with a 10 year phase in plan for a National Living Wage. The intention is to send it to all 1400 Mayors with a Resolution enabling them to petition the US Congress to fix the Federal Minimum Wage by indexing it to the local cost of housing (the single most expensive item in the budget of every American).