A new effort to help Houston's homeless

The City of Houston has long had homeless outreach programs, but out in Harris County there's a new effort.

The City of Houston has long had homeless outreach programs, but out in Harris County there's a new effort.

It's a different kind of assignment, in a different place.

"It's been more rewarding to me, than anything I've done," said Deputy Luke Ditta, Harris County Homeless Outreach Team. "There's a mass growing number right now in northwest Harris County."

On the street's of Houston's suburbs, we met Stephen Baker.

"It's the hungriest I've ever been, the thirstiest I've ever been," he said.

KHOU was with the homeless outreach team when they found Baker on the side of the highway.

"We definitely have some programs we can provide to you," Ditta told Baker.

These deputies spend most of their time right where they found Baker, along 1960 between I-45 and 249.

"Everybody on the streets is going to hit rock bottom and that's when we reach in and get them," said Deputy James Kelley, Harris County Homeless Outreach Team.

Since the county's outreach team started a year ago they've responded to 1,104 calls for service and made contact with 969 people. However, the number they're most proud of is getting 81 men and women off the streets and into permanent housing.

"We're not here to write them a citation, we're not here to arrest them for criminal trespassing, we're here to offer them something better," said Ditta.

"It scared me when he walked up on me," said Baker. "He turned out to be a blessing and he gave me exactly what I need right now."

Baker is taking them up on their offer, leaving the streets behind because these two men lent a helping hand.

"I have ambition, I have want to get off the streets," he said.

Thursday morning, Houston Mayor Turner is announcing a big investment to help the homeless. It's all part of the goal to get more people into permanent housing and off the streets for good.

 

(© 2016 KHOU)


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