City of Houston

Homelessness Down 5% In Houston

The number of homeless people living in Houston inched down from last year after an uptick due to Harvey.

Homeless people moved across the street from the Highway 59 bridge downtown, while workers cleaned the homeless encampment, on November 16th, 2017.

Homelessness in Houston decreased 5% compared to last year, according to the 2019 homeless count by the Coalition for the Homeless.

They counted some 2,300 people living in shelters and 1,600 living on the streets.

The dip comes after the homeless population grew in 2018 following Harvey, which was the first time in seven years that Houston saw an increase in their homeless population.

The coalition’s CEO Mike Nichols told Houston Matters, though Harvey is still a factor in some homelessness, there are systematic problems at play.

“The child welfare systems, the educational systems, racism, the criminal justice system, all of those systems leave an open pipeline for people who are homeless. The biggest one, of course, is our mental health system that needs so much support,” said Nichols. 

“Texas is 47th in the nation in spending in mental health, and although we have great people in Harris County who work on these programs, we need more dollars on those programs,” he said.

Since 2011, homelessness has decreased 54% in Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties.

Nichols attributes that decrease to supportive housing and support from organizations that help the homeless population.

For its size, Houston homeless count is relatively small compared to other major cities like New York City, which has some 63,000 homeless people

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