two men stand outdoors near a trash bin with a green and gray tent and the skyline in the background
Credit: Lucio Vasquez / Houston Public Media

The region’s unsheltered population decreased by nearly 20% over the last year, according to an annual report examining the region’s homeless population.

The report from the Coalition for the Homeless found 1,242 people living unsheltered in Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties during its annual point-in-time count in January — a 17% decrease since 2022. Additionally, the amount of people staying in shelters increased by 18% over the last year, according to the report.

Ana Rausch, the coalition’s vice president of program operations, said the increased number of people staying in shelters was likely due to the lessening of pandemic restrictions.

“[The shelters] had been not at capacity over the last couple of years and now they’re finally getting up to what they were prior to the pandemic,” Rausch said. “Overall, we’re very happy with the results.”

Overall, the amount of unhoused people throughout the region has stayed relatively consistent over the last two years. The coalition found that 3,270 people were experiencing homeless throughout the region in January — a decrease of 18% since 2020 and 61% since 2011, according to the report. Additionally, the report found that 91% of the region’s homeless population were in Houston and Harris County.

The report also found that:

  • About 42% of unsheltered people in the region were experiencing homeless for the first time, up from 40% last year;
  • Black individuals represented 20% of Harris County’s total population, yet they comprised of more than 55% of those experiencing homelessness;
  • About 9% of unsheltered people said they were homeless because of the COVID-19 pandemic, down from 13% last year.

The report comes after the city opened a new housing navigation center earlier this year with the goal of streamlining the housing process. According to the coalition, 112 people have entered the facility and so far, 52 people have been housed.

The Coalition for the Homeless operates the region’s homeless response system called The Way Home. Since 2012, more than 28,000 people have been placed in permanent housing through The Way Home, according to the report.

Lucio Vasquez