Houston Meets Challenge To House Homeless Military Vets
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Mayor Annise Parker was joined by representatives of the Houston Housing Authority and Goodwill Industries as well as other program partners to announce that Houston successfully housed 101 chronically homeless veterans in 100 days. Housing Houston’s Heroes, the 100 in 100 program, was launched in May as a pilot project to determine whether it is feasible for local agencies to work together to reduce the incidence of chronic homelessness in Houston, especially among returning veterans.
Mayor Parker marked achievement of this milestone by bringing house warming gifts to four of the formerly homeless vets at their new homes in the Villas on Winkler. “There is no excuse for our returning heroes to be living on the streets upon returning home,” said Mayor Parker. “They risked their lives to protect us. Now it is our turn to make sure they have roofs over their heads and access to other assistance they may need. The success of this program is proof of what can be accomplished when the public and private sectors work together.”
This unprecedented effort involved nearly 20 governmental and nonprofit entities, including the City of Houston (Office of Veterans Affairs, Housing and Community Development, and Houston Police Department Homeless Outreach Team), the Houston Housing Authority, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Harris County Housing Authority, Harris County Community Services, Catholic Charities, SEARCH, the Housing Corporation, Career and Recovery Resources, Inc., Neighborhood Centers Inc., US Vets, Cloudbreak Communities, Healthcare for the Homeless, Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority, The Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County and Goodwill Industries of Houston. Goodwill brought gift cards to the mayor’s announcement for the veterans living at Villas on Winkler to use in furnishing their new homes.
In addition to affordable housing, the program also provided access to social services and job assistance. The 100 in 100 is meant to serve as a model for a larger, longer-term program. As this is meant to be only the beginning, the program has been renamed to Housing Houston’s Heroes: The First 100 days.
It is estimated there are nearly 2,000 veterans who are homeless in the Greater Houston Area. 101 out of 148, or 68 percent, of the placements through housing voucher leases since the program started were to veterans identified as chronically homeless, meaning they had been continuously homeless for more than a year. The 68 percent performance represents an increase over the 22 percent of chronically homeless veterans housed prior to the pilot program.