Housing

Houston council votes to move forward with transitional housing center for homeless

Mayor Turner emphasized the center is not a shelter, but a temporary stopping point for homeless individuals to get off the streets.  

Houston City Hall
Patricia Ortiz
Houston City Hall. City Council voted to approve funding for a new Homeless Navigation Center.

The Houston City Council approved over $1.9 million for a new Homeless Navigation Center in Northeast Houston.

The center will be located on Jensen Drive in Northeast Houston and provide temporary housing for up to 100 homeless individuals annually for 60 to 90 days.

The city is partnering with the county and the Coalition for the Homeless to operate the center. The center will provide individuals with three meals a day, transportation, job training classes, health care, one-on-one intensive case management and more. The center will also have a health clinic on site operated by Harris Health Systems and two community classrooms for the public.

Councilmember Tarsha Jackson, who represents District B where the center will be located, said she tagged the agenda item at its September 7th meeting because she wanted to make sure her constituents were involved and their needs were being addressed.

"I wanted to get more information about the advisory board to make sure that it’s inclusive, to make sure the community is part of the conversation and also the programs that the community wanted to see moving forward, that it’s moving forward on the initiative,” she said.

She said she's hopeful the center will have a positive effect on the community.

"Let’s support it and just continue to work with the administration to make sure that the community is getting exactly what they need and it's not a burden to the community."

Councilmember Letitia Plummer was the lone no vote. She said she supports it, but she voted no because the metrics were not clear for the residents.

"The uncertainty, though, does make me a bit uncomfortable, we don’t really have clear metrics of success," she said. "I know that we want it to be successful, but the metrics are not really lined."

After neighbors gave their comments at a town hall meeting, Mayor Sylvester Turner said he’s committed to making sure the center enhances the neighborhood and doesn’t cause any issues.

“If I felt at the end of that one year, that the city had not lived up to its commitment and to its promise that I would shut this navigation center down myself," he said.

Turner said he would evaluate the center after one year because he didn't want to burden the residents in that neighborhood by adding more issues on top of the current issues they are facing.

"The commitment I made to them was that we wanted to enhance the area, not pull down the area," he said "And it would not just be about the navigation center, but the city was committed to addressing concerns in that quadrant."

Turner emphasized the center is not a shelter, but a temporary stopping point for homeless individuals to get off the streets.

"So it’s not like they’re going to be staying there, this stands them up, provides them with the resources that they need to stand them up on their feet," he said.

Homeless individuals will not be able to just walk into the center – they have to be referred and transported by homeless agencies and/or first responders.

Turner said the topic of homelessness is always sensitive, but everyone agrees something needs to be done about the issue.

"I think everybody is supportive of the need to address the homeless situation," he said. "People may have various opinions, but I think there’s 100% agreement that we need to do something to address the homeless situation."

This story was updated on 9/16/22 at 3:30 p.m. to correct the number of residents able to stay at a time.

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