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Harris County, Houston launch $65M plan addressing homelessness

The plan will house 5,000 people experiencing homelessness over the next two years to limit the spread of COVID-19.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — Harris County and the City of Houston have launched a $65 million plan to address homelessness.

The Community-wide COVID-19 Housing Program (CCHP) will house 5,000 people experiencing homelessness over the next two years to limit the spread of COVID-19. It will permanently house people who are currently experiencing homelessness and those who may fall into homelessness as a result of the economic effects of the coronavirus.

The City of Houston dedicated $29 million, and Harris County allocated $18 million to the initiative using federal funds, including significant funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo tweeted, saying the plan is “the single largest investment to address homelessness in our history & we’re breaking down silos to make it happen.”

The Coalition for the Homeless helped coordinate planning efforts and will lead the implementation of the CCHP, expected to start in August.

The CCHP will include:

Diversion: A program to help approximately 2,000 people maintain or regain housing so they do not have to enter emergency shelter. Assistance may be financial (i.e., up to three months’ rent) or may include family mediation or creative problem-solving.

Rapid rehousing: Short-term (up to 12 months’) rental assistance and light services for those who do not require intensive case management, for approximately 1,700 newly homeless individuals.

A “bridge” to permanent supportive housing (PSH): Housing for approximately 1,000 persons currently experiencing chronic homelessness — including those living unsheltered and/or in encampments — while they await a PSH unit.

The CCHP will also homeless outreach to those living unsheltered outside of Houston, mental health case management for high-risk individuals and additional support for emergency shelters, including for survivors of domestic violence, to help them implement CDC health and safety recommendations.

CCHP was approved by Harris County Commissioners Tuesday and by Houston City Council Wednesday.

County and city leaders are still asking for donations to help fill the financial gap. They’re also asking landlords and management companies to help house some of these people.

For more information, contact The Coalition for the Homeless in Houston.

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