HOUSTON (CBS Houston) On Wednesday, Houston Mayor Annise Parker unveiled data from Houston Registry Week, which is a week-long initiative, outlining Houston’s plan to get more than 2,000 homeless individuals off of Houston’s streets.
“Over 160 volunteers, including Mayor Parker, canvassed the streets of Houston for three days last week to identify, interview and assess the City’s most vulnerable and expensive homeless individuals,” added officials with the city of Houston. “Registry Week provided in-depth information essentially validating the City’s initial data and program expectations on the needs of our homeless population and the housing and services necessary to end chronic homelessness.”
Volunteers compiled information about Houston’s homeless population by using 33 targeted questions. An individual’s health status, institutional history (jail, prison, hospital, and military), duration of homelessness, regular patterns of shelter or mission use and additional housing activities were all entered into the data collection process.
“Volunteers administered a total of 963 surveys, identifying 847 unique homeless individuals, of which:
• 15% – Female
• 18% – Veterans
• 48% – Suffer Chronic Health Conditions
• 46% – Suffer Mental Health Conditions
• 20% – Victims of Domestic Violence
• 32% – Victims of a Violent Attack since Becoming Homeless
• 34% – Employed despite Literally Sleeping on the Streets
The survey also collected information on the use of costly public systems, like emergency rooms and jails. Fifty (50) percent of the respondents identified the hospital as their primary source for healthcare with 964 visits to the emergency room in just the last three months alone, as well as 695 inpatient hospitalizations in the last year. Additionally, eighty-one (81) percent reported having been in jail, often for unpaid tickets.”
Mayor Parker says that homelessness can become costly but it is an epidemic that the city of Houston is working to eradicate: “Every year, chronic homelessness is costing us an estimated $103 million in public resources,” said Mayor Parker. “However, now that we know our chronically homeless by their names, stories and needs, we can shift these vital resources to move them off the streets and into stable housing. This compassionate, community-driven plan will help our most vulnerable Houstonians while saving taxpayer money.”