Words by Smiley Team
Houston is the fourth most populous city in the United States, but it doesn’t rank in the top 10 homeless populations in the US. This is because of a consistent effort to help unhoused people, cutting the population by 63% over the last decade.
This is part of a housing-first approach that Houston has taken to homelessness, providing stability to people before anything else. That push for housing first has provided 25,000 people with permanent housing.
The nonprofit Coalition for the Homeless of Houston and Harris County counted 3,223 unhoused people in Harris, Fort Bend, and Montgomery counties during its annual point-in-time count in January. The coalition found a 19% decrease in overall homelessness in the region since 2020, and a 64% decrease since 2011.
Between October 2020 and September 2021, 3,845 people were placed in permanent residences, more than double the previous year, and that’s attributed to the creation of the nonprofit's Community Covid Housing Program, or CCHP, which was launched after the city and county invested $65 million in July 2020 with the goal of housing 5,000 people by October 2022.
As of February 2022, more than 7,700 people were housed through the CCHP, and in January another $100 million was allocated to housing another 7,000 people by 2024.
Ana Rausch, Coalition for the Homeless vice president of program operations, said the group has focused primarily on permanent housing in response to the pandemic.
“We believe that housing (and) supportive services is really the only way to permanently solve homelessness,” Rausch said.
Much of this push has been spurred by the pandemic and the impact it was having on shelters in the area.
“In the very beginning of the pandemic, the coalition helped some of our shelters to decompress,” Rausch said. “So because of that, we can’t really be sure that the sheltered count is what it would have been prior to the pandemic.”
Houston has provided permanent housing for over 25,000 people since 2011.
DONATE: You can donate to the CCHP to help fund the work that they’re doing in the Houston area.
SUPPORT: Volunteer at local shelters and kitchens. Many places need hands just to sort through donations. It might brighten someone’s day.