Homeless Programs Get $20 Million Boost

Even with the tough economy there is still money flowing into Houston for non-profit efforts. The city announced a 20-million dollar grant awarded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help curb chronic homelessness. Laurie Johnson reports.

The grant is a result of an annual program called the Homeless Assistance Competition. In the past, Houston has received roughly $15 million from HUD through the program.

Anthony Love, executive director of Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County, says this year the department recognized Houston for progress in helping people get off the streets.

"It does say that, you know, Houston you are heading in the direction. That you are beginning to look at the problem more strategically, that you're planning better, that you're prioritizing better. And, you know, ok here are the resources to help you continue in that work."

The grant will fund about 40 different projects split among various organizations.

Houston Mayor Bill White says this means being able to turn around more lives among the chronic homeless.

"You see among that population of chronic homeless a number of people who have been diagnosed with mental illness or who have problems with substance addiction and alcoholism and there are programs that work to turn around lives and allow people to live with independence and dignity."

In fact, among the chronically homeless, 90 percent will require intensive or even lifelong care.

Love says in addition to recurring programs, the $20 million will fund five brand new projects, including more housing.

"And that will add another 192 permanent housing beds within our community, which will be about a ten percent increase of beds, 139 of those beds will be designated for people who are chronically homeless."

Love says there was a decrease in the number of homeless in 2007. But he anticipates a slight uptick this year, not because of the economy, but rather from the small percentage of families who are still homeless after Hurricane Ike.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.  

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...