COALITION FOR THE HOMELESS ANNOUNCES RECENT FINDINGS ON HOUSTON AREA NEEDS
On a given night in the greater Houston area more than 8,700 people are homeless
July 31, 2012 (Houston, Texas) – The Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County announced today the findings from its annual Needs Assessment Report and its Point-in-Time count of the homeless in Houston,Harris and Fort Bend Counties. The Point-in-Time (PIT) Enumerations and Needs Assessment is a program conducted by the Coalition, required of all communities that receive federal support from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). According to the 2012 PIT, which provides a snapshot of homelessness on a given night, there are approximately 8,768 homeless persons in our area. This includes 3,824 people living unsheltered, 3,532 living in sheltered facilities, and 1,412 in the Harris County Jail.
THE FACE OF HOMELESSNESS
Homelessness is a complex issue, and effective efforts to prevent and end it require broad community participation. Triggers that lead to homelessness may include job loss, eviction by a family member, bills higher than earnings, domestic abuse, incarceration, mental and/or physical illness, drug and alcohol abuse or changes in family status. In fact, job loss was a leading factor for 35%of the individuals captured in the 2012 Needs Assessment report.
The Coalition’s HMIS (short for Homeless Management Information System) is a computerized data collection tool specifically designed to capture client-level, system-wide information over time on the characteristics and services needs of men, women and children experiencing homelessness. According to recent HMIS findings, 22,781 homeless people in this area accessed services this year. Of these individuals, 28% were living in emergency shelters.
More than 22% of the homeless in Houston are in families with children, of which 28% of the children are under the age of 18. Domestic violence contributes to 30% of homeless families, headed by women with their children.Veterans comprise 22% of Houston’s homeless, even though 70% were eligible for Veterans Affairs benefits. Of this population only 30% were receiving the benefits for which they were eligible.
“In 2011, HUD named Houston as a priority community. This designation recognizes the great need to transform Houston’s existing homeless service system and the tremendous opportunity to make significant advances,” stated Marilyn L. Brown, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County. “The Coalition for the Homeless works with numerous area service providers every day to prevent and end homelessness in our region. Our partners are striving to assist and support homeless individuals who need their services to survive. Through their efforts, we have seen a drop in the homeless population in Houston. We remain committed to ending the cycle of chronic homelessness in our region. We are pleased to be a convener of hard data on homelessness in this region every year. Armed with the right information and collaborative partnerships among citizens, business leaders and government officials, we can continue to make these numbers decrease.”
ENGAGING THE COMMUNITY
As part of its mission to prevent and end homelessness, the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County is hosting a two-day Charrette on August 20-21, with support from the Corporation for Supportive Housing. A Charrette is an intensive planning process that jumpstarts and streamlines how a community develops or updates its Community Action Plan on homelessness. The upcoming Community Charrette on Homelessness, which will encompass Houston, Harris County, and Fort Bend County, is an opportunity for collaboration among diverse stakeholders to solve community problems related to homelessness. The Community Charrette is a direct result of the current Continuum of Care work being led by the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County.
Mayor Annise Parker will give an opening address to Charrette participants on Monday, August 20 at 9:15 a.m. Many specialists in the region will participate as speakers and/or panelists during the two-day working Charrette.
The Charrette sessions will be held at the Harris County Department of Education, located at 6300 Irvington Boulevard in Houston. The public is invited to attend these meetings, which will address the causes and propose solutions to the multiple facets of homelessness in the greater Houston area. For information on how to participate in the Charrette, please contact Gary Grier, Director of Community Engagement, Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County at firstname.lastname@example.org or please call (713) 739-7514.