Houston Cut Chronic Homelessness by 60 Percent; Can It Do More?

Local housing advocates called for a commitment to bring the number of chronically unhoused people to zero.

2 minute read

September 12, 2023, 10:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Aerial view of green Memorial Park lawns and trees with downtown Houston skyline in background

Joseph Sohm / Memorial Park, Houston

At a recent town hall hosted by the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County, local leaders asserted the potential for Houston to end chronic homelessness, writes John Brannen in The Kinder Institute for Urban Research’s Urban Edge.

According to Central Houston Inc. President and CEO Kris Larson, “This community has housed more than 3,000 people just in the last five years. This is a commitment issue that we need from our elected leadership to recognize that this is something we can do as a community.”

One of the few U.S. cities taking a ‘housing first’ approach to helping unhoused people find stable housing, Houston has been successful in part thanks to strong collaboration between agencies. The city experienced a 61 percent decrease in homelessness in the past 12 years, according to an annual point-in-time count, a success that, says Kinder Institute Director Ruth N. López Turley, shows that homelessness is “not an intractable problem.”

In a survey conducted this summer, housing affordability proved a serious concern for a majority of Houstonians. “Nearly 40% of Houstonians said they were ‘often’ or ‘almost always’ worried about being able to afford their monthly mortgage or rent payment, and about 1 in 4 renters said they were ‘often’ or ‘almost always’ worried about eviction.”

Editor's note: A previous version of this article and the source article quoted Kris Larson as saying "more than 300,000 people." The correct number is 3,000.

Monday, September 11, 2023 in Urban Edge

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