Just a decade ago, Houston had the sixth-largest homeless population in the country and was designated as a priority city by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Houston pivoted to a housing-first system that moves people off the streets and into homes as quickly as possible while providing them with services that allow them to remain housed long term. The region started operating under a single continuum of care that leads the decision-making process on how to distribute all funding and services. And it used data to decide what programs to roll out, where to allocate resources and how to distribute money.
Since moving to that system, Houston and its surrounding counties have decreased the area’s homeless population by roughly 63%. Now city officials throughout the U.S. are reaching out to the city for guidance on developing their own housing-first model.
This series dives into the factors that have led to the success of Houston’s homeless response system and the challenges the city faces and will continue to face in addressing homelessness.