New Initiative Hopes To Reduce Houston Homeless Population

A report on houston's homeless finds more than 8,700 people without a permanent home. Efforts are underway to reduce that number.

Circumstances vary, but the main reason people experience homelessness is because they cannot find housing they can afford.

Houston is said to have the third highest homeless population in the country.

Mandy Chapman-Semple is with the mayor's Homeless Initiative.

"On any given night, we see about 8,500 homeless individuals living in the streets, in shelters and in our jail system. And we know that there are a particular sub-populations of those individuals that have remained on the street for years."

She says they're formulating a plan that targets the chronically homeless, who often suffer from significant disabilities like mental illness or medical conditions, who have been left on the street for a significant period of time.

"There's an intervention called Permanent Supportive Housing, which can be very effective for helping these individuals stabilize in housing for more than a year. So we aim to really increase the amount of Permanent Supportive Housing, and systematically identify these individuals who are most vulnerable, and help place them and reconnect with our community." 

It's estimated that the city spends about $103 million a year in public resources, from police response, jail stays, hospital and emergency rooms and homeless services like shelters.

"We have great hope. In the last year, we've seen that when we're able to identify chronically homeless individuals and place them into permanent housing, that we see a reduction in chronic homelessness."            

A comprehensive homeless survey will be conducted the first week of May to chart the goal of reducing the problem.

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...