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Houston Slashes Homeless Rate in Half in Less Than Five Years

In 2011, the homeless count in Houston was more than 8,500, but in a recently released report, that number has fallen to 4,600
Houston Slashes Homeless Rate in Half in Less Than Five Years
Michael Green/EyeEm

For years, the city of Houston has been trying to curb its homelessness rates, and a recently released report suggests that its efforts are paying off.

The Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County found that the number of homeless people living within city limits had fallen 46 percent, from 8,538 in 2011 to 4,609 in 2015.

“It’s incredible,” Marilyn Brown, president and CEO of Coalition for the Homeless, said to the Houston Chronicle. “When we see the result—that the number of homeless has been cut in half—we see we’ve gone from managing homelessness to end it.”

The city credits the drop to an increase in homeless shelters and a citywide effort to eliminate veteran homelessness. The city hopes to completely wipe out both veteran and chronic homelessness—defined as someone who has been without a home for at least a year or as a disabled person who has been without housing at least four times within three years—by the end of 2015—two years ahead of the federal government’s goal to end it nationwide. 

By 2020, Houston city officials hope to completely end family and youth homelessness, something that activists say is within reach.

“The success driving those numbers down proves that as a community, we can end homelessness in our region,” Tom McCasland, Harris County Housing Authority CEO, told the Houston Chronicle. “We’re making progress. We’re moving the needle in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go.”