The answer to Galveston's homelessness problem may be what's in the bag

Nick Natario Image
Thursday, May 25, 2023
Galveston works to figure out why homeless population is growing
The city of Galveston hopes a new survey will help them figure out ways to help homeless people on the island and why the population keeps growing.

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As the summer tourism season kicks off, Galveston is looking to learn more about unwelcomed guests.

Galveston leaders have an idea of how many homeless are on the island. Federal numbers show about 320 were counted earlier this year, but they don't know why they're here or why the number keeps growing.

That's why they're turning to backpacks because the answer may be what's in them.

While city leaders hope for large tourism numbers this summer, they're trying to reduce another figure.

For months, they've tried to address the homeless population - an issue once again brought up during Thursday's council workshop meeting.

"I wouldn't say it's out of control, but we are experiencing, as I think many cities are, an increase in our homeless population," Galveston Mayor Craig Brown explained.

To find out more, the city is working with various organizations, including Galveston CoCare.

This summer, volunteers plan to survey people experiencing homelessness.

They'll ask 25 questions, including where they came from, how they got here, and whether they want to return.

By this August, the city may come up with a plan that may include providing transportation off the island.

"For those individuals who are on the island that may want to return to their place of origin or their home or where they were brought from," Brown said.

To get homeless people to participate, organizations plan to give them a backpack full of summer supplies for their time - items provided by the organizations, not taxpayers.

The answers won't only help the city, but agencies plan to use the responses to improve services. The plan is to meet with at least 300 homeless people over the next couple of months.

"So many times when you look at the homeless situation, it's a lot of anecdotal information," Brown explained. "Information that is really not correct. What we want to do is objectify this information, and that would give us the details we need."

It's information city leaders hope will help everyone who comes to the island.

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