$65 million plan to rehouse expected surge in homeless

As eviction cases are moving through courts, City of Houston and Harris County officials are getting ready for an expected influx of homeless families. But they have a $65 million plan to try to get 5,000 people back into homes.

The City and County have contributed a combined $58 million of CARES Act funding for housing, while the Coalition for the Homeless is working to raise another $9 million.

"Lost my job and I've been trying to get myself back in order," said Robert Veatch.

He knows what homelessness feels like, one of many the Salvation Army is helping.

"Been at the Salvation Army for the last six months. They've been trying to help us get a place to stay, a job," he said of his search for another restaurant management job.


The Salvation Army Greater Houston Command opened an auxiliary shelter at the Fonde Recreation Center to allow for social distancing in other shelters, and as the homeless population has begun to grow.

"We don't even know where this is going to. We are still going through it. There's a lot of uncertainty people are facing, can another shoe fall? Can something get worse?" said Salvation Army Area Commander Zach Bell.

"We are hearing what their needs are, we are assessing what they're desiring, what their next steps are," said the Salvation Army's Kenneth Eakins of their intake process.

"Even though we haven't seen a spike yet, I think we're probably going to see one as the number of people are experiencing homelessness in the coming months," said the Coalition for the Homeless' Ana Rautsch.


For those coming months, Rautsch says the $65 million plan will have three parts.

Part 1: Two years of permanent housing for 1,000 people already homeless.

"They're going to be getting employment services.  They're going to get help to help them figure out what happened for them to become homeless," said Rautsch.

Part 2: Rapid re-housing with 12 months of rental assistance for 1,700 newly homeless who don’t require intensive case management.

Part 3: A new program to divert 2,000 people from even becoming homeless through case management, counseling, and financial assistance.

"Diversion includes conflict mediation, or problem-solving, to help connect the individual back to their support system so they can get rehoused as fast as possible," explained Rautsch.


Help that will continue to put people, like Veatch, back on the right track.

"Not every day is easy, but I try to do my best.  With their help, I could do a lot better," said Veatch.

The Coalition for the Homeless is looking for landlords with empty units to house families. Rautsch says they will provide market-rate rent.

If you're facing homelessness call 211, the United Way Helpline, or click here for resources.