How Houston Is Eliminating Chronic Homelessness

Taking a comprehensive ‘Housing First’ approach, the city of Houston has cut homelessness by 63 percent in the last decade.

June 15, 2022, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


“During the last decade, Houston, the nation’s fourth most populous city, has moved more than 25,000 homeless people directly into apartments and houses. The overwhelming majority of them have remained housed after two years,” reports Michael Kimmelman in an expansive piece in The New York Times. “The number of people deemed homeless in the Houston region has been cut by 63 percent since 2011, according to the latest numbers from local officials.”

Houston has gotten this far by teaming with county agencies and persuading scores of local service providers, corporations and charitable nonprofits — organizations that often bicker and compete with one another — to row in unison. Together, they’ve gone all in on ‘housing first,’ a practice, supported by decades of research, that moves the most vulnerable people straight from the streets into apartments, not into shelters, and without first requiring them to wean themselves off drugs or complete a 12-step program or find God or a job.

The article details Houston’s efforts and highlights the city’s focus on eliminating “chronic homelessness,” a term referring to people who experience homelessness repeatedly or for longer than a year.

According to Kimmelman, “the big reveal after a year was not that Houston had solved the problem. It hasn’t. There is no one-time fix to homelessness.” For Kimmelman, “The reveal was something different. It was that in broken America it’s still possible for adversaries to share facts and come together around something contentious and difficult. Public and private, county and city, businesses and nonprofits, conservatives and liberals, the housed and unhoused: In Houston, enough of them have agreed on a goal that seems worth striving for.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2022 in The New York Times

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