Mayor and volunteers work to get homeless off streets

Houston Mayor Annise Parker led a team of volunteers canvassing the streets of downtown Houston to interview homeless individuals as part of Houston Registry Week. More than 120 volunteers are participating in a weeklong campaign as part of the city's plan to get 2,500 homeless persons off the streets by 2016. (John Mizwa)
May 7, 2013 1:41:55 PM PDT
Houston Mayor Annise Parker led a team of volunteers canvassing the streets of downtown Houston to interview homeless individuals as part of Houston Registry Week. More than 120 volunteers are participating in a weeklong campaign as part of the city's plan to get 2,500 homeless persons off the streets by 2016.

National studies show that chronic homeless individuals account for only 25% of a major city's homeless population, but consume 75% of the homeless resources. In Houston, there are approximately 2,500 chronic and near-chronic homeless individuals, costing an estimated $103 million in public resources per year.

Houston Registry Week is the first step in a plan to reduce chronic homelessness in Houston that includes identifying and prioritizing the most vulnerable homeless individuals, placing them into permanent housing, and providing needed services and treatments.

Houston Registry Week is part of the national 100,000 Homes Campaign -- a grassroots movement of more than 175 communities to find and place chronically homeless individuals into 100,000 homes across the nation. As part of the campaign, volunteers are using a 33-item questionnaire to gather targeted information on the individual's health status, institutional history (jail, prison, hospital, and military), length of homelessness, patterns of shelter or mission use, and previous housing situations.

"Registry Week is an exciting opportunity to create a comprehensive database of people living on our streets and in our shelters, enabling us, as a community, to know the homeless by name, to understand their stories, and to identify their needs," explained Neal Rackleff, Director of the City's Housing and Community Development Department. "The information gathered is crucial to our ability to place our most vulnerable into permanent housing with supportive services to break the cycle of homelessness."

"In Houston, we don't just dream, but we achieve, and Registry Week is the first step towards achieving the goal of virtually eliminating chronic homelessness in Houston," said Mayor Parker. "I am proud that as a community we have come together to align our resources and develop a comprehensive, compassionate plan that puts a face and name to the problem of homelessness and saves the taxpayers' money."

Mayor Parker is scheduled to present the findings from Houston Registry Week immediately following the regularly scheduled City Council meeting on May 15.
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