HOUSTON, Texas — Despite what you may see on the streets, Houston’s homeless population has actually dropped by half within the past eight years.
We’ve done so well with our homeless population, we’ve now become a role model for other cities.
It’s a count cities across the state do once a year. They count the number of people living on the streets in Houston, and all across Texas.
Almost every year, since 2011, Houston’s numbers have actually dropped. The only year they went up was in 2018, just months after Harvey.
But overall, we’ve dropped so much, we’ve reduced our homeless population by half. While some cities, like Dallas, are on the rise.
It all started with one goal: 100 veterans housed in 100 days. And in 2012, they did that and then some.
Nearly 500 homeless veterans were housed by the next year, and by 2015, Houston basically ended the problem, housing over 3,650 homeless veterans.
Since then, it’s been a group effort by the city, police and several non-profits.
They’ve brought our total homeless population down from 8,538 in 2011 to 3,938 in January of this year. That’s a 54 percent drop. The Coalition for the Homeless in Houston said we’ve housed more than 17,000 people since 2012.
Besides that collaboration, one of their secrets is a computer program.
The Homeless Management Information System is an online tracking program that keeps tally on who’s homeless, and lists all the services available to them, from mental health to domestic violence.
On top of that, there are weekly meetings where police officers bring forth a list of names of people wanting to be housed.
Those who want to stay on the streets, Houston ordinance says “current city policy is one tent, one bike, durable medical equipment, and the equivalent of three cubic feet of belongings not considered infected or a health hazard.”
In recent years, Houston has been asked to share the work we are doing here with places like Hawaii, Alaska, and Boston.
If you would like to learn more about Houston's homeless population, you can visit the coalition’s website. They have a full list of services available to those who are in need.
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