CSH convened last week in the great City of Houston, Texas, to applaud that community for its success in reducing veteran homelessness. Houston has housed more than 2,800 homeless veterans since January 2012, according to the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/ Harris County.
Addressing a large crowd at the CSH All-Staff National Conference, Houston Mayor Annise Parker updated us on the four primary goals of her city's "The Way Home" campaign.
Since 2012, over 80 percent of the veterans housed in Houston were categorized as chronically homeless, meaning they have been on the street for at least a year or have had four episodes of homelessness over a three year period and have a disabling physical and/or mental condition including substance abuse. Extensive planning and collaboration between CSH, the City of Houston, the VA, Harris and Fort Bend Counties, the Housing Authorities and local Continuum of Care, have resulted in dramatic decreases in the time it takes to house a homeless veteran. Depending on their circumstances, Houston-area veterans can now be housed as quickly as the same day they show up for help. Their main goal is that every veteran's homelessness will be resolved as quickly as possible.
"The numbers speak for themselves," said Mayor Parker. "As a result of increased collaboration and a commitment to ending chronic veteran homelessness, Houston has been successful in getting homeless veterans off our streets. The job is not done, but we are proud of what we have been able to accomplish in Houston for the men and women who have served our country."
Director Adam Walmus of Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center agreed saying, "What distinguishes Houston is our integrated approach that allows us to use community and VA-based resources to address medical, mental health and social needs of veterans in a collaborative way. This allows us to use an individualized approach that benefits each and every veteran. We are housing an extraordinary number of veterans and working to keep them housed."
Marilyn Brown, president and CEO of the Coalition for the Homeless, noted the progress made locally for all homeless veterans.
"Permanent housing, with supportive services, is the solution to homelessness. Since the 2012 launch of Houston's Continuum of Care, there has been unprecedented alignment and collaboration among the stakeholders addressing this challenge. We've now effectively created a single front door so that any homeless veteran in our community can receive services, regardless of their circumstances. Today, we have an opportunity to become a role model for other communities," Brown said.
Brown went on to acknowledge Wells Fargo as another significant contributor to the early efforts to end homelessness in Houston.
CSH is proud to call Houston, now the fourth largest city in the country, a valued partner. Their campaign is really a national blueprint to end chronic and veteran homelessness by 2015, to end family and youth homelessness by 2020, and to build a system in which no one has to be without housing.