During his annual State of the City address Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced a new program to aid efforts to house individuals experiencing homelessness on Houston’s streets.
The city is partnering with Bread of Life to launch – Dinner to Home – a food program designed to help individuals experiencing homelessness embark on the path to being housed. The pilot program will offer dinner service at a safe, clean, and appropriate location.
The program is designed to attract individuals who may not normally engage with the homeless housing system by providing food that people want to eat in a respectful, dignified atmosphere with tables, chairs, trash receptacles, restrooms, and cover (during inclement weather). Above all, an array of services, including housing assessments, will be reoccurring.
“Food alone does not solve homelessness. However, when used with services and housing, food can be an important tool to help trained professionals forge vital relationships needed to navigate vulnerable Houstonians into housing with wrap-around services,” said Mayor Turner.
“Houston is on the right path, but we must all do more. The Dinner to Home program pairs perfectly with all the comprehensive, holistic initiatives the city is currently working on to help our brothers and sister experiencing homelessness, including the largest homeless housing initiative in our city’s history, the opening of the first Housing Navigation Center in the entire state, and endeavors with the private sector to secure more supportive housing units.”
The program will provide dinner four nights a week, for three months, with an option to extend for up to 10 months. The program will be operated and managed by Bread of Life, a local not-for-profit with a track record of successfully working with vulnerable Houstonians.
“Preventing an increase in street homelessness is tough, and reducing homelessness is even harder. However, Houston is showing the world that collaboration, housing resources, and the right tools can be done! The Dinner to Home program will supplement and boost the extraordinary work outreach teams are already doing to reach out to, connect, and house Houstonians experiencing homelessness,” said Pastor Rudy Rasmus, founder of Bread of Life.
Over the past two years, Houston’s regional, collaborative homeless housing program housed a record 10,900 individuals experiencing homelessness, leading to a 19% reduction in homelessness during the pandemic, including a nearly 10% reduction in street homelessness.
In just the past two months alone, delegations of elected officials and leaders from Los Angles, Denver, Spokane, Tacoma, Albuquerque, and Delaware visited Houston to learn how the city, county, private sector, and agencies of The Way Home continue to work together on long-term solutions to reduce homelessness holistically.