If you have an additional question about SEARCH, please email us at info@searchhomeless.org

How do people become homeless?

People become homeless due to multiple reasons: job loss, domestic violence, and natural disaster. The Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County found that among the individuals surveyed who are homeless:

  • Loss of job is the highest reported reason for becoming homeless (59% of men and 32% of women)
  • 54% of homeless women are victims of domestic violence.
  • More than half of Houston’s homeless persons are mentally ill; 33% of those live on the street.
  • 60% have histories of substance abuse.
  • Homeless youth are often children who have aged out of the foster care system or are escaping abusive homes.

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How is SEARCH different from other homeless service organizations?

SEARCH Homeless Services pursues a mission of providing hope, creating opportunity and transforming the lives of individuals experiencing homelessness in our community. SEARCH is committed to our mission because (1) human beings deserve to live in a safe, healthy, sheltered setting and (2) helping people stay housed and live a stable life provides Houston with a huge economic benefit.

SEARCH’s focus, facilitating meaningful behavior change that assists people live a more rich, self-sufficient and healthy life, is what we do best. We work with three primary client groups: those who are readily employable, the youngest among us (children ages 18 months – 5 years old whose parents are working diligently to exit homelessness) and those who need us most, the chronically homeless (many of whom are mentally ill with a co-occurring addiction). This work can be done in two steps. First, SEARCH’s highly skilled professional staff engage with clients: We utilize evidenced based practices such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing. We build rapport and provide resources to clients who recognize the need for change in their life. Second, SEARCH case managers help clients ultimately facilitate change by helping them take action, then maintaining their behavior change.

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What does case management mean?

A social worker or social service provider who works one-on-one with clients, who are facing challenges and obstacles in their life, is a case manager. During these confidential sessions, case managers listen to the clients, offering feedback that is both supportive and non-judgmental. Case managers encourage clients to consider options to the lifestyle in which they are currently living, set personal goals and take incremental steps toward reaching those goals.

The staff are experts in the various social services available throughout the community for people who are living on the streets. Case managers help clients successfully navigate these often complex and frustrating systems. Case managers understand that people who are homeless, particularly those who are chronically homeless or disabled, may only be able to take one step at a time toward stability. Each step is considered a success.

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What does it mean to help people “back on their feet”?

Families, women, children and men who experience homelessness are faced with many overwhelming obstacles, including hunger, exhaustion, physical illness, low self-esteem, and paranoia. Each of these challenges, in and of themselves, can stifle a person’s determination to change their predicament. It takes tremendous fortitude for a person who is homeless to completely and successfully regain self-sufficiency. At SEARCH, we work one-on-one with clients helping them take one step at a time to ultimately help people “get back on their feet.”

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What can I do to help?

There are many ways to help SEARCH Homeless Services in our mission of providing hope, creating opportunity and transforming the lives of Houston’s homeless.

You can:

  • Make a monetary and/or stock contribution.
  • Get involved and volunteer.
  • Talk to your friends, family, and co-workers about who we are and what we do; and encourage them to get involved.
  • Set up your estate to plan for a gift to SEARCH
  • Ask your company to donate to SEARCH or to match your contribution.
  • Raise money through your congregation or company.
  • Plan an in-kind donation drive in your community.

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What should I give a homeless person instead of money?

  • 1 bus fare
  • 1 bottle of water
  • 1 box of tissues
  • 1 granola bar
  • 1 sample of mosquito repellent
  • 2 bars of soap
  • 1 pair of socks
  • 1 toothbrush and mini toothpaste
  • 2 apples
  • 1 sack lunch

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What are the do’s and don’ts for offering assistance?


  • Hand out printed resource cards, so people in need can learn about SEARCH Homeless Services. Some volunteers keep a small supply in their car.
  • Offer a smile or a gentle word of encouragement. Treat people with dignity and respect. Much of their self-worth has been ripped away by circumstances we cannot imagine.
  • Carry bottled water in small cooler in your car, especially in the summer, to offer to people who are asking for handouts. Houston heat can be, and often is deadly for people who are homeless.
  • Volunteer at SEARCH or a homeless shelter. Help is always needed. During economic downturns, people who never imagined themselves homeless are in need of help.
  • Make a monetary donation to SEARCH and support our mission of providing hope, creating opportunity and transforming the lives of Houston’s homeless families, women and men. Eighty-seven percent of all monetary donations to SEARCH go directly to programs to help our clients.
  • Donate non-perishable food items at your local grocery store or directly to SEARCH or hold a food drive at your congregation, school or place of work.

Do Not:

  • Give money to people who are begging on the street. You do not know how the money will be used and you are actually helping them stay on the streets and avoid seeking a positive path out of homelessness.
  • Avoid eye contact or treat people who are standing on street corners like they are invisible. Instead, offer a smile, return a wave or speak a gentle word of encouragement.
  • Offer rides or invite strangers into your car. If someone is injured and needs immediate assistance, call 911.
    Drive too close or too fast when passing people who are standing on street corners.
  • Assume others will handle Houston’s homeless problems. This is a community issue and must be addressed by our entire community of caring citizens.

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