Houston To Help 25,000 Homeless People Get Into Homes Of Their Own
Houston has still not been able to solve homelessness but it has made remarkable progress and suggests a way forward.
Ana Raush possessed a shady corner of a parking lot on the northwest side of Houston on one steamy morning in July. Her attention was on a highway underpass nearby where some people were living in tents and cardboard lean-tos. Ms. Raush wanted to move them out from there being the vice president of Houston’s Coalition for the Homeless.
Ms. Raush watched the process and took note of Houston’s approach to homelessness. It was difficult to make out the difference between this encampment and the one in cities like Los Angeles and Austin because these states have more homeless people. Ms. Raush and her team coordinated with Harris County officials and the mayor’s office.
They concluded that such people would not be allowed to stay in homeless shelters but should be given a home. Since then, Houston has moved 25,000 homeless people into safe apartments and houses. Most of those people had a house for two years. Since 2011, the number of homeless people in Houston has decreased by 63%. If the housing process is streamlined, then the waiting period comes down to 32 days.
Houston has been able to do this by teaming with county agencies, corporations, and charitable non-profit organizations. In addition to this, addiction recovery and religious conversion programs are also quite helpful in getting people off the street into their homes.
Sylvester Turner said, “ Before I leave office, I want Houston to be the first big city to end chronic homelessness”. He later joined Harris County leaders in a $100 MIllion plan which would use a mix of federal, state, or local government funds to reduce homelessness by 2025.
At the same time, there are thousands of mothers and children including teenagers and young adults who are at high risk and ill-housed. Finding a place to sleep is a daunting task for them. At one point or the other, one in every 14 Americans tend to experience homelessness. Tackling systemic racism, reconstituting the nation’s mental health, raising wages, and expanding the federal housing choice voucher program can help to eradicate homelessness.
Ms. Raush’s team had managed to transfer the people living in encampments to the new residences. There was a shy, 39-year-old woman named Terri Harris relocated among other people. She was not only tired of living on the streets but was also desperate to unite with her 3-year-old daughter.
Jessica Preheim, Vice president at Houston’s Coalition for Homeless says that every five or six years, the Houston Housing Authority announces a lottery for anyone in need to apply and to get on the waiting list for the Federal Housing Choice Vouchers.
Instead of relying on a census, Houston started collecting real-time data and the goal was to house 100 homeless veterans in 100 days. Houston decided to help eliminate homelessness by collectivizing its homeless relief system. The Houston Housing Authority agreed that 250 homeless people would be on the waiting list for vouchers.
Nearly 50,000 people in the Houston area did not qualify for an apartment in 2021. The ones who receive the highest scores on Houston’s Index tend to become eligible for permanent supportive housing. Supportive housing means that the person is not only given a house to live in but also some money for rent, bus fare, and other utilities.
More and more people are facing housing insecurity due to rise in housing costs which is not matched to increase in incomes. This eliminates the ability for low-mediam income individuals to purchase homes and additionally has them paying more then half of their salary on rental housing.
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Kimmelman Michael. “How Houston Moved 25,000 People From the Streets Into Homes of Their Own”. Nytimes, June 14, 2022,
Last Updated: September 20, 2021