$65M plan approved to help get homeless off streets during COVID-19

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HOUSTON — The City of Houston, Harris County, and the Coalition for the Homeless have announced a joint, $65-million plan to house 5,000 people experiencing homelessness over the next two years to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Due to underlying health conditions and a lack of access to facilities, people experiencing homelessness are more susceptible to the novel coronavirus and are at higher risk of experiencing severe symptoms.

The CCHP will permanently house people who are currently experiencing literal homelessness (e.g., living in shelters, encampments or on the streets) as well as those who may fall into homelessness as a result of the economic effects of the coronavirus.

The City of Houston has dedicated $29 million and Harris County has allocated $18 million. A variety of federal funds, including from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, are also being utilized.

“Together, we are making the single largest investment in addressing chronic homelessness in our region’s history,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. “Meaningful change happens when we work together to think outside the box, shift paradigms and invest in innovative solutions. This is the beginning of a new approach here in Harris County and it’s going to take continued effort from all of us. I look forward to applying solutions that are compassionate, that work, and that save taxpayer dollars in the long term.”

The Coalition for the Homeless helped to coordinate the planning efforts and will lead the implementation of the CCHP, expected to begin in August, which includes:

•Diversion: A program to help approximately 2,000 people maintain or regain housing so that they do not have to enter emergency shelter. Assistance may be financial (i.e., up to three months’ rent) or may include family mediation or creative problem-solving.
•Rapid rehousing: Short-term (up to 12 months’) rental assistance and light services for those who do not require intensive case management, for approximately 1,700 newly homeless people.
•A “bridge” to permanent supportive housing (PSH): Housing for approximately 1,000 people currently experiencing chronic homelessness — including those living unsheltered and/or in encampments — while they await a PSH unit.