How many people are homeless in the Houston area?

Information from the 2014 Houston Homeless Count indicates that on a given night there are approximately 5,351 homeless persons in our area according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) definition of homelessness, including 2,291 people living unsheltered and 3,060 living in sheltered facilities. It is important to note that this number is down 37% from 2011.

An additional 1,525 individuals who self-reported as homeless were in the Harris County Jail on the night of the count, and when added to the total of those defined as homeless by HUD, the total number of homeless individuals in the region is 6,876.

Measured in terms of the total number of persons accessing homeless services in a year, there were 27,728 individuals who accessed some type of homeless service in 2013, as captured by HMIS.

Click here to view the 2014 Homeless Count Executive Summary.

What are the contributing factors to homelessness in the Houston, Harris/Fort Bend County area?

Factors contributing to homelessness in our area are generally the same as those in other areas of the U.S.

Triggers for homelessness in this area during 2011 and 2012 are shown in the chart below. (insert Triggers of Homelessness chart, truncating the list below entry #8 – Changes in family status; rename chart to Major Triggers of Homelessness in the Houston Area)

As you can see, economic conditions are currently playing a large role, with “loss of job” forming the largest category.

In addition, according to the 2012 Needs Assessment Report and 2012 Point In Time Enumeration:

  • Nearly 50% of homeless persons here reported receiving no income, whether from employment, earned income, veterans or disability benefits or other similar sources.
  • 34% of people living on the streets were categorized as chronically homeless.
  • More than 25% of homeless persons here reported “the street” as the place they stayed the longest during the last 12 months.

Houston has been named a Priority Community by HUD. What does that mean?

Passage of the 2009 Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act put into place requirements to coordinate various HUD and other federal funds to prevent and end homelessness.

To aid certain communities in the implementation of the HEARTH Act, HUD designated ten Priority Communities across the country. The Houston/Harris County/Fort Bend County Continuum of Care was designated as one of these HUD Priority Communities.

This designation was based on the high rate of homelessness, especially chronic homelessness, in this area combined with the potential to improve systemic performance.

How can a homeless person or family get help here?

People who are homeless in this area can access this interactive map showing homeless service providers and their contact information.

In addition, a variety of resources are located here.

How does Houston compare with the rest of Texas in terms of homelessness?

The most recent data from our 2014 Homeless Count indicates that there are approximately 5,300 homeless individuals in Houston, Harris County, and Fort Bend County on any given night.

Here are comparable figures for other large Texas cities:

  • Austin/Round Rock: 1,987
  • Dallas/Fort Worth/Arlington: 5,939
  • San Antonio: 2,892

How is Houston doing compared to other major U.S. cities in terms of helping the homeless?

Though we still have a lot of work ahead of us to prevent and end homelessness in our region, Houston has continued to make great strides in addressing homelessness over the last few years.

For the first time in several years, Houston is no longer one of the 10 cities in the U.S. with the largest homeless populations. Below are the comparative figures for those 10 cities. All data is taken from the 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, which reflect the number of homeless persons on a given night in the below Continuums of Care (CoCs):


New York City, NY 67,810
Los Angeles City & County CA 34,393
Las Vegas/Clark County, NV 9,417
Seattle/King County, WA 8,949
San Diego City and County, CA 8,506
District of Columbia 7,748
San Jose/Santa Clara City and County, CA 7,567
Metropolitan Denver, CO 6,621
San Francisco, CA 6,408
Chicago, IL 6,287