By: Shelley McKinley
Homelessness is an issue for some and an experience for others. Of those experiencing homelessness, the 2022 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) data tells us that nationally 50.0% of homeless people are white, and 37.3% of homeless people are black. According to the Coalition for the Homeless, which serves as the lead agency to The Way Home Continuum of Care (CoC) and is the Greater Houston homeless response system, the vast majority of those experiencing homelessness are black/African American (55%) or white (41%) in Harris County. The 2020 U.S. Census showed a total of 6,174,367 persons in Harris, Montgomery, and Fort Bend counties.
How are homeless people counted? HUD uses a Point-in-Time (PIT) methodology, offering a snapshot of homelessness—both sheltered and unsheltered—on a single night. The onenight PIT counts are typically conducted during the last 10 days of January each year. HUD has methodological standards for conducting the PIT counts, and CoCs use a variety of approved methods to produce the counts. In Houston the official “night of record” for the count occurred on the night of Jan. 23, 2023. Persons experiencing homelessness were found in one of four settings – places not meant for human habitation (i.e., unsheltered), emergency shelters, transitional housing, or safe havens. Safe havens are supportive housing that serves hard-to-reach homeless persons with severe mental illness who are on the street and have been unable or unwilling to participate in supportive services.
When asked what the primary cause of their homelessness was, one-third said loss of job or loss of income. Another 9% of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness indicated they were homeless due to the COVID-19 pandemic with most citing the loss of a job or reduction in hours and/or eviction as the precipitating event. The second most common reason given (21%) was family conflict. In a separate question, 8% of unsheltered individuals indicated they were homeless due to a natural disaster. Of those answering yes, 60% cited Hurricane Harvey, another hurricane, or flooding as the reason.
In September 2023, ahead of the Houston Mayoral election, the Kinder Institute found that 85% of Houston residents reported being either “concerned” or “very concerned” about homelessness, just behind crime and safety at 86%. Now headed into a runoff, Houston Mayoral Candidates JacksonLee or Whitmire will have to deliver on their campaign promise regarding homelessness in Houston. Both U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and TX Sen. John Whitmire said their legislative experience would allow them to collaborate with local, state and federal governments to bring additional funding and manpower to tackle the issue.
At the Healthcare for the Homeless Forum on August 17, 2023, Jackson Lee said her experience in Congress will allow her to work with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to secure rental assistance and resources for low income housing. She also pledged to have a cabinet member of her administration dedicated to addressing homelessness. At the same forum, Whitmire pledged to bring the owners of the Astros, Rockets and Texans together and give them 90 days to develop a plan for funding or providing healthcare for homeless Houstonians.
Among the Black/ African American homeless population, many are U.S. Military Veterans, survivors of domestic violence, persons with HIV/ AIDS, persons with serious mental illness, individuals experiencing chronic substance use disorder (alcohol and/or drugs), and unaccompanied young adults and parenting young adults. Since 2012, more than 28,000 people who have experienced homelessness in the greater Houston area have been housed. This has resulted in a more than a 60% decrease in overall homelessness in just over a decade. Houstonians are counting on the next mayor to continue this trend.
October 16, 2023, HOUSTON, TX – Congressional Candidate Amanda Edwards has raised over $1 million in less than 4 months, a substantial sum that helps bolster the frontrunner status of the former At-Large Houston City Council Member in her bid for U.S. Congress. Edwards raised over $433,000 in Q3 of 2023. This strong Q3 report expands on a successful Q2 where Edwards announced just 11 days after declaring her candidacy that she had raised over $600,000. With over $829,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of the September 30th financial reporting period, Edwards proves again that she is the clear frontrunner in the race. “I am beyond grateful for the strong outpouring of support that will help me to win this race and serve the incredible people of the 18th Congressional District,” said Edwards. “We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s trajectory, and we need to send servant leaders to Congress who can deliver the results the community deserves. The strong support from our supporters will help us to cultivate an 18th Congressional District where everyone in it can thrive.” Edwards said. “Amanda understands the challenges that the hard-working folks of the 18th Congressional District face because she has never lost sight of who she is or where she comes from; she was born and raised right here in the 18th Congressional District of Houston,” said Kathryn McNiel, spokesperson for Edwards’ campaign. Edwards has been endorsed by Higher Heights PAC, Collective PAC, Krimson PAC, and the Brady PAC. She has also been supported by Beto O’Rourke, among many others. About Amanda: Amanda is a native Houstonian, attorney and former At-Large Houston City Council Member. Amanda is a graduate of Eisenhower High School in Aldine ISD. Edwards earned a B.A. from Emory University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Edwards practiced law at Vinson & Elkins LLP and Bracewell LLP before entering public service. Edwards is a life-long member of St. Monica Catholic Church in Acres Homes. For more information, please visit www.edwardsforhouston.com
As September 13th rolls around, we extend our warmest birthday wishes to the creative powerhouse, Tyler Perry, a man whose indomitable spirit and groundbreaking work have left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. With his multifaceted talents as an actor, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and director, Tyler Perry has not only entertained but also inspired audiences worldwide, particularly within the African-American community, where his influence and role have been nothing short of powerful. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1969, Tyler Perry’s journey to stardom was a path riddled with adversity. Raised in a turbulent household, he found refuge in writing, using it as a therapeutic outlet. This period of introspection gave rise to one of his most iconic creations, Madea, a vivacious, no-nonsense grandmother who would later become a beloved figure in Perry’s works, offering a unique blend of humor and profound life lessons. Despite facing numerous challenges, including rejection and financial struggles, Perry’s determination and unwavering belief in his abilities propelled him forward. In 1992, he staged his first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” which, although met with limited success, was a pivotal moment in his career. Unfazed by initial setbacks, Perry continued to hone his craft, and by 1998, he had successfully produced a string of stage plays that showcased his storytelling prowess.
Calling all teenage student-athletes! If you have dreams of playing college soccer and wish to represent an HBCU, the HBCU ID Camp is your golden opportunity. From 8 am to 5 pm on November 11-12, Houston Sports Park will transform into a hub for aspiring male and female soccer players. Coaches from HBCUs across the nation will be present to evaluate, scout, and offer valuable feedback. Moreover, they might even spot the next soccer prodigy to join their collegiate soccer programs. This camp is not just about honing your soccer skills but also a chance to connect with the HBCU soccer community. You’ll learn the ins and outs of what it takes to excel on the field and in the classroom, which is crucial for a college athlete. The HBCU ID Camp is an excellent platform to network with coaches, learn from experienced athletes, and take the first steps toward your college soccer journey. To secure your spot at this incredible event, don’t forget to register [here](insert registration link). Space is limited to 120 participants, so make sure to reserve your place before it’s too late. It’s time to turn your dreams of playing college soccer into a reality.