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Houston – a model city in solving homelessness

June 12, 2014

Thao CostisTwo weeks ago the Coalition for the Homeless announced that the number of people who experience homelessness at any point-in-time in Houston is lower by 37% since 2011. This continuing decline in the number of people who are living on the streets or in emergency shelters is a testament to the changing approach within our community. What’s different? We are 1) engaging in strong private, local, and Federal partnerships and taking strategic actions to maximize all of our resources, 2) increasing evidence-based housing and services models like permanent supportive housing, and 3) focusing on outcomes. With these factors working together, solving homelessness is possible and within reach.

While still a work in process, Houston has become a model city in ending homelessness. The Mayor’s special assistant on homelessness, Mandy Chapman Semple, has been sharing the story nationally. In an expert brief she provided to a council of Cabinet and leaders from 19 Federal agencies who met to take action on Federal efforts to support and advance progress on ending homelessness in local communities, Chapman Semple notes that “Healthcare, mental health treatment, substance abuse, employment, education and economic growth are rarely optimized without adequate housing. However, responses across these sectors often do not recognize their inter-dependence. Houston’s success is the result of understanding the connections between these systems and creating a framework to define when systems can operate in parallel and when they must intersect and interweave.”

SEARCH is on the front lines leading client engagement, influencing local change efforts, and witnessing successes. The “60 minutes” news show shared on their website “before and after” photos of individuals who’d benefited from the 100,000 Homes campaign, a national effort to house 100,000 chronically homeless individuals throughout the country. Here’s an update on the couple from Houston, Deborah and Robert, former SEARCH clients:

They are doing great! Their health is good. They have only been going to their doctors, no ER visits. They are excited that they just signed another year lease. They do have two new additions to their family, cats named “Toast” and “Midnight”.

Robert shared, “In the beginning, when we first moved here, we weren’t sure that it was going to work out, if we would fit in in this apartment complex. But it turns out, we really like a lot of the people here and we know a lot of the neighbors. We still stay connected with some of our friends that are still on the street and try to help them out when we can. We were with these people for a long time. You know, at the end of this year’s lease we will have been inside almost as long as we were outside. We are happy.”

At the start of SEARCH’s work, we were happy with being able to change one life at a time. With hard AND smart work, SEARCH and our community partners are changing thousands of lives at a time.


Contact me at
tcostis@searchhomeless.org if you have feedback or a story to share.

 

Thank you,

Thao Costis

President/CEO

SEARCH Homeless Services

Neil Kang

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    Homelessness is a big issue in the houston area any time of year, but particularly this time of the season when temperatures can drop to or below freezing, but what can we do to address the problem. One organization called “SEARCH Homeless Services ” is taking a very unique approach here to tell us more about that we have the Executive Director Thao Costis.

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