Advocates for Texas’ homeless population are celebrating a federal report showing a significant reduction in the number of Texans who are homeless over the past decade. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s annual count, homelessness in Texas dropped by almost 42 percent from 2007 to 2016 – a period when the state’s overall population grew 13 percent. Eric Samuels, executive director
“It’s either permanent support housing or rapid re-housing, right away. They’re not moving people through emergency shelter and transitional housing programs,” Samuels said. “Because they’re doing that and because they’re directing their funding towards those programs, we’re getting people out of homelessness faster.”
The HUD survey measured the number of people on the streets in a single 24-hour period in most American towns and cities. Samuels’ network helped conduct the annual point-in-time survey in Texas. The group also provides training to agencies tackling homelessness. Texas had some advantages in the survey, Samuels said, including lower housing costs and a somewhat better job market than in many states. But he said that helping groups like the chronically homeless and veterans remains a challenge.
“To be chronically homeless, you have to be on the street for a long duration of time or have frequent episodes of homelessness and have a disabling condition,” Samuels explained. “One of the disabling conditions often is a mental illness. The news there is good because we are getting a lot of those folks off the street.” He said another major factor in the state’s performance was that the federal government has increased funding for homeless programs in Texas by 70 percent since 2005.
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