Houston Adds 1,000 Apartments For The Homeless

Tory Gunsolley, the CEO of Houston Housing Authority.
Houston will soon have an additional 1,000 apartment units for homeless individuals and families.

Several Houston agencies, including the City of Houston and Harris County, are partnering to increase the number of units available to get chronically homeless people off the streets and out of shelters.

The Houston Housing Authority is providing $100 million of HUD vouchers to develop 1,000 new units of permanent supportive housing.

HHA President Tory Gunsolley says this is part of a national effort to end veteran and chronic homelessness by 2015.

"We have thousands of homeless in Houston. Last January over 7,300 people were counted as homeless in one night in January. There are thousands more who weren't homeless that night who became homeless and it is a serious problem."

The vouchers will pay for the apartments along with support services like career and mental health counseling.

Thao Costis is the head of SEARCH, a homeless shelter and support organization. She says this multi-pronged approach is more effective than simply providing shelter when it comes to keeping people from ending up back on the streets.

"It has shown that we can be more cost-effective, we can get longer lasting results and we can get faster results when we put people in housing, stable housing of their choice, and from there help them reconnect with community."

Housing developers have until January 10th to submit proposals to be part of the program.

The Houston Housing Authority says existing units could be available to house the homeless as soon as February, while new housing could be built over the next three years.

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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...