State of Homelessness Event Looks to the Future of Homelessness in Houston Region

Jun 15, 2018  |  at 11:57 am  |  by sbrown

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The Coalition for the Homeless held a State of Homelessness breakfast event at the Junior League of Houston on May 23. The event featured a panel discussion as well as the results of the 2018 Homeless Count & Survey.

Nearly 100 community stakeholders from partner agencies of The Way Home, local government agencies, and the business and philanthropic community attended the event, eager to learn more about the future of The Way Home, the region’s homeless response system. Panelists at the event included Marilyn Brown (President/CEO, Coalition for the Homeless), Robert Pulster (Regional Coordinator, United States Interagency Council on Homelessness), and Eva Thibaudeau, LMSW (Vice President of Programs, Coalition).

The panel, moderated by Kaitlin Monte (Fox 26), began with a look back on the work of The Way Home, including successes to-date. Thibaudeau spoke to the incredible collaboration of the local homeless service nonprofits – may of whom attended the event – and how their willingness to think outside the box led to many of our community’s successes. Pulster reminded those in the room that, although homelessness in Houston can feel overwhelming, Houston has led and continues to lead the nation on solving homelessness through innovative partnerships and an incredible “yes” culture.

Brown revealed the 2018 Homeless Count & Survey results which showed an increase for the first time since 2011. The majority of the increase was seen in the unsheltered homeless population, and 18% of unsheltered homeless individuals surveyed during the Count reported that their homelessness was due to Hurricane Harvey.

“Hurricane Harvey was a major disrupter to the work of The Way Home, both in terms of diverting resources and contributing to the increase in unsheltered homelessness,” said Brown. “In just 41 days, partners of The Way Home shifted resources to successfully prevent homelessness for nearly 1,000 people who had nowhere to go after the storm. But it was a major disruption to the homeless programs already in place and a devastating distraction from our planned work in 2018.”

With an eye to the future, Pulster shared insights about an anticipated update to the federal plan on ending homelessness and what that might mean for the Houston area. Our region can expect that individuals experiencing non-chronic homelessness will be one subpopulation of focus in the future. Brown and Thibaudeau reiterated the importance that all of the partners in this work need to keep putting one foot in front of the other and continue to come to the table to end homelessness.

“We’ve proven that we have a greater impact when our voices are united, when we’re at the table together, and when we are working together toward our common goals,” said Brown.

The Coalition also announced the launch of The Way Home’s new Facebook page at the event. As lead agency to The Way Home, the Coalition will manage this new social media channel as a collective space where partners can share and post their success stories and how their organizations and staff are committing to the work to end homelessness through #2020AndBeyond! For more information about engaging on this new channel, visit our digital toolkit: https://bit.ly/TWHToolkit.