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Mayor Annise Parker: Houston Homeless Population Decreased By 50 Percent Since 2012

by: Natalie San Luis

Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 10:30 AM CDT

Over 1,400 homeless individuals in Houston have found safe housing in the past two years thanks to Mayor Annise Parker's efforts to end chronic homelessness in the city.

In 2013, Mayor Parker appointed Mandy Chapman Semple to be the city's first special assistant for homeless initiatives. Additionally, a team of business leaders, nonprofits, and volunteer organizations have collaborated to create long-term housing accomodations and services.

On April 1, the city debuted an electronic placement database to help homeless Houstonians find safe, stable housing within 30 days. The system should be available to outreach teams and other providers of social services over the next few months.

Read more about Houston's initiatives to address homelessness after the jump.

Mayor Annise Parker announced today that the number of chronically homeless individuals living on the streets of downtown Houston has decreased by 30 percent in just one year and 50 percent over the past two years. More than 1,400 at-risk individuals have been placed into safe, stable, supportive housing only two years after the announcement of her goal to end chronic homelessness in Houston.  

"We are on the right path! Our Housing First strategy of creating permanent accommodations with robust supportive services is working," said Mayor Parker. "Moreover, the coordinated team-effort of over 60 different organizations aligning their resources and efforts is working!"

The City of Houston ramped up technology and developed a coordinated placement system to help house even more individuals. It is a real-time, electronic database similar to travel reservation websites. The database was successfully tested earlier this year and went live April 1 at The Beacon, which provides hot meals, private showers, lavatory facilities, laundry services and case management to Houston's underserved and homeless population.  It will be expanded to other service providers and street outreach teams within the coming months. The system is used by trained Housing Navigators to help recommend an appropriate type of housing, find which housing communities an individual qualifies for, show real time availability of beds and instantly reserves beds for individuals.

"What has changed is that when we encounter an individual now at The Beacon, we are able to get them housed as rapidly as seven days with this new system," said Special Assistant to the Mayor for Homeless Initiatives, Mandy Chapman Semple. "Our overall goal is no more than 30 days and this system will definitely get us there."

Mayor Parker's team is led by Houston Hope Managing Director Pam Gardner and consists of some of the City's top business, religious and philanthropic leaders. They have been overseeing the creation of the placement system and the expansion of permanent supportive housing required to end chronic homelessness. The team is looking for more volunteers and donations, please call (713) 220-9769 for more information.

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