HOUSTON - City and county officials made a historic announcement Wednesday afternoon that $100 million will be going toward providing housing for the homeless.
Mayor Sylvester Turner says it’s the largest amount of funding Houston or Harris County has ever seen for such an initiative, and he believes the impact will get 50% of our homeless population off the streets.
The Mayor was joined by several Harris County officials and agencies that help the homeless in our area; they’re all working together on what’s being called the Joint COVID-19 Housing the Homeless Initiative.
"All these agencies will spend this money wisely, carefully, and you will find that it’s fiscally responsible,, said Michael Nichols, CEO of Coalition for the Homeless of Houston.
Phase one of the program launched back in October 2021, it was a 65-million-dollar initiative with the goal to house up to 5,000 people experiencing homelessness; a number that was quickly surpassed.
"Today the initiative has housed over 7,000 individuals experiencing homelessness." Mayor Turner said.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo also spoke during the press conference.
"We prevented 3,000 people from being homeless, helped with rapid rehousing, and got 1,000 chronically homeless folks off the streets," Judge Hidalgo said.
Mayor Turner says without the aid received from the American Rescue Fund they would’ve only been able to help no more than 1,000 people. However, thanks to what he’s calling "once in a generation type of funding."
They plan to up the ante for phase 2, setting a goal to get 7,000 people off the streets within 3-years.
Phase 2 of this initiative comes several months after Governor Greg Abbott signed HB 1925 into law which bans public homeless encampments and holds local officials responsible for enforcing that ban.
During the press conference, the coalition for the homeless called on apartment managers and owners to step up saying they need about 1,700 single units made available for their clients; clients who come with vouchers, and case managers.
They say it’s critical for these groups to step up in order to help keep the homeless crisis at bay.