HOUSTON, TX – Houston’s population is booming, but the streets are getting a lot less crowded.
“Over the past two years our population of chronically homeless individuals in the downtown area has been decreased by 50%,” Mayor Parker announced Wednesday morning.
It could be thanks to the city’s new homeless initiatives, including a brand-new website that works a lot like a travel site, placing homeless people in permanent housing.
“We maintain a real-time database of available units in our system,” Mandy Chapman Semple, special assistant to the mayor for homeless initiatives. “So that housing navigator, no matter who they are, can look in our system, identify a unit that’s available for this individual.”
Mayor Annise Parker explained the new system is just part of changing the city’s outlook towards the homeless population.
“We had to get past the way our system was, which talked about ‘the homeless,’ and get to the point where we could say, ‘This is about John Smith.’”
The system can get a homeless individual placed in permanent housing in as little as seven days. But according to the mayor, placement isn’t the end of a chronically homeless person’s story.
“We will find you a place to live and get you stabilized, but we’re also going to work with you to tackle your other issues.”
Parker said about half of Houston’s homeless population has substance abuse or mental health issues, so the city has a lot of work left to do.
But getting people off the streets is a major first step.