Evacuee Housing Lessons Applied to Houston's Homeless
by: Capella Tucker, September 1, 2006 12:09:00 am
The idea is that other things such as jobs will fall into place if a person has a place to call home. The effort began a couple of years ago with a commission that had the task of better defining Houston's homeless.
As many as 14,000 people are sleeping on the streets of Harris County on any given night. Coalition for the Homeless Houston Harris County President Anthony Love says Houston's response to Katrina evacuees could apply to Houston's homeless.
"We looked at that and thought that was an ideal model. If we can do that for people, you know, house over 120-thousand people, and then we can put together the same model and house 13,000 people."
Love says they want to model the methods used about a year ago.
"How the data as managed, how they were able to locate units, get people into those units, help them to get their rent paid, etc, etc."
Social service agencies were already looking at how to change Houston's approach to the homeless. A Blue Ribbon Commission put together a ten year game plan and the United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast is putting 500-thousand dollars toward implementation. President Anna Babin says they want to impact the system of homeless services.
"We have all the service providers talking, providing information, with progress measures. It'll be collaboration with the city of Houston and Harris County. It would be the repository for decision making and strategic decisions as it relates to how we are going to allocate those resources to address the homeless population."
The Coalition would be the umbrella organization. It calls for the group to restructure itself. Other goals in the ten year plan include housing, prevention and intervention, and accountability.
The Commission's report broke down Houston's homeless population this way: ten percent require temporary care, 55 percent require periodic care. Babin says these people may be in between jobs or need help managing money. It's estimated that about 35 percent fall into the chronically homeless and would require lifelong, supervised care. Babin says many of these individuals need mental health care and substance abuse treatment. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.