Through both the Residences on Emancipation and Housing For Harvey programs, The Way Home partners were able to prevent homelessness for nearly 1,000 people immediately after Hurricane Harvey. Though the efforts of these homeless service providers may have helped prevent a massive influx of people experiencing homelessness, the disruption to the system was certainly devastating.

According to Marilyn Brown, President/CEO for the Coalition, “While the Housing for Harvey program was extremely successful, the post-Harvey efforts were a major disruption to our regular homeless services and planned work for 2018.” Alvin Migues, Director of Emergency Disaster Services for Salvation Army Texas also added, “Everything went out the window because everyone focused on Harvey, we were working from an emergency operations perspective and not a day-to-day- operations status. We had 5,000 spontaneous volunteers to respond to Harvey. You can imagine the time and effort required to manage those folks.”

In May, the Coalition held a State of Homelessness Breakfast to announce the results from the 2018 Homeless County & Survey. For the first time since 2011 there was an increase in the number of unsheltered homeless individuals on the night of the 2018 Count; the number increased from 1,163 individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness on a single night in 2017, to 1,614 on a single night in 2018. 18 percent of the people experiencing unsheltered homelessness on the night of the Count said that Hurricane Harvey was the cause of their homelessness.

Statewide data from Texas Homeless Network shows more detailed information about Harvey survivors including demographic information and other characteristics. All major cities in Texas had increases in their 2018 Homeless Count numbers, though of course Houston was among the communities to experience the effects more acutely.

Now that the one year anniversary is here, we can look back at our response and the incredible collaboration from partners of The Way Home and appreciate the amazing things that we accomplished. 70 percent (234) of the households enrolled in Housing For Harvey have transitioned out of the program and 88 percent of those that have left have either returned to their living situation prior to the storm, are self-paying for their apartment or have enrolled in another subsidized housing program.

Even with the disruptions and increase to the 2018 Homeless Count numbers, The Way Home has still housed more than 14,500 people in permanent housing since 2012 with an 84% success rate, and overall homelessness is still down 51% from where it was in 2011. Further, the Coalition is leading disaster preparedness workgroups that will take input from partner agencies and help ready communications, resources, and action plans for the next disaster – though we all hope that is a long, long time from now!

Press Release: “Coalition for the Homeless and Partners Reflect on the Successes of “Housing For Harvey” and Examine Remaining Challenges One Year After the Storm, August 14, 2018

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