Houston Mayor, County Judge announce initiative to reduce homelessness

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homeless

In a new historic effort to decrease the local homeless population, the city and the county are working together in an initiative to provide housing and provide longer term options for homeless solutions in our city.

The initiative will include mental health assistance as well as rental assistance to get people off the streets of Houston.

The Mayor is giving an update on the local response to COVID-19 and announcing a city and county joint committee with the goal to house 5,000 homeless in 2 years. Listen in!

This homeless initiative will have three homeless assistance components:

  • Bridge to permanent housing
  • Rapid rehousing – a year of rental assistance
  • Diversion – Range of case management – short term mental assistance

$40M is being put in by City of Houston and $65M from Harris County will be contributed to this program. An additional $15M from ESG funds are being put in the pool for the county.

It costs $40,000 per person to leave them on the street according to Commissioner Adrian Garcia. That’s because law enforcement is left to respond to calls. At this point, 50,000 folks are left on the street every day.

Mike Nichols of Coalition Of the Homeless says “the work now begins to put this money in the right hands.” We will make homelessness rare, brief and non-reoccurring.

Nichols is calling on local philantropy to keep it going. Houston and Harris County landlords need to step up and provide housing. A number of agencies will be participating for this 2-year initiative.

Marc Eichenbaum, Special Advisor for Homeless Initiatives says “there are 100 different entities involved and this is truly taking a crisis and turning it into an opportunity. The majority will be housed in just one year.

This comes during the pandemic where folks have lost their jobs in the last few months – as domestic abuse spiked locally during the stay at home order.

It’s a new approach that will be incredibly important.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo

Harris County Judge joined virtually via telecommute. She was tested for COVID-19 after finding she was at risk for exposure. Her test results came back negative Tuesday.

Tuesday our County Judge Lina Hidalgo and each of the Harris County commissioners voted unanimously to approve the Small Business Recovery Fund (SBRF) program, a $30,000,000 grant program. It’s been newly established to assist struggling small businesses who have been unable to obtain financial assistance from other COVID-19 relief programs.

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