Houston used to be on the list of worst homeless cities in the country, but in the last decade, it has turned around. Mayor Sylvester Turner said tackling the issue is a priority before he leaves office.
“The goal that I have set is to get us down, in a sense, to zero homelessness in the city by the end of next year,” he said.
In the past 10 years, Turner said the city has taken 25,000 people off the streets and has done so by focusing on housing, finding affordable apartments across Houston.
“Two years after the fact, most of those people are still housed, because of the permanent wrap-around services,” Turner said.
The city is heavily invested in those support services. In its latest commitment, the city and Harris County made a combined $100 million investment to transition people from the streets to permanent housing.
It hasn’t always been easy.
“The challenge right now is getting the units,” he said.
There are some places — like New Hope Housing on Harrisburg — that are partnering with the city. It has dedicated a majority of its units to the project, but Turner said the city needs more apartment managers to offer any available units.
“If we have the inventory of one-bedroom units, then we could decommission the encampments that you see in the city of Houston right now,” Turner said.
He said the city is planning to open its second Navigation Center on the northeast side. It’s a place where the homeless go for a 60- to 90-day period before they transition to housing.
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