Houston-area homeless population stays flat, but could increase in 2021

HOUSTON, Texas -- The Houston area saw its homeless population stay mostly flat in 2020 with a slight increase in Harris County, but experts warn the effects of the coronavirus-related economic downturn will not be reflected in the data until the same data is collected next year.

"We definitely expect to see an increase because there are a lot of people who have hit financial troubles. I know the city and the county both have been providing the assistance, and there have been tranches of funding that have come about that were used up within hours," said Ana Rausch, the vice president of program operations at the Coalition for the Homeless. "That alone tells us that there is a lot of need and there are still more people contacting the homeless coalition for rental assistance."

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The results of the 2020 annual point-in-time count published June 23 and organized by the Coalition for the Homeless Houston recorded 3,567 homeless residents in Harris County, of which 1,515 were living on the streets rather than in shelters. This year, that number climbed slightly to 3,753 with 1,551 living on the streets. Harris County makes up the bulk of the Houston-area homeless population, which also includes totals from Montgomery and Fort Bend counties.

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Overall, the three-county area recorded about a 40-person increase to a total of 3,974.

In 2020, for the second year in a row, about 20% of the current homeless population in the area was experiencing homelessness for the first time, according to the PIT data.

A demographic breakdown of the Houston area's homeless population presents additional causes for concern, Rausch and Nichols said. As in previous years, Black residents are disproportionately affected by homelessness, making up 56% of the area homeless population but only 19% of the total population in 2020, the count found.

This content was provided by our partners at Community Impact Newspaper.

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