The annual “point-in-time” survey by the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County suggests homelessness remains steady locally, despite a nationwide increase.

In a new report released June 18, 3,280 people experienced homelessness in Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties in January, a slight increase from 2023. In addition, unsheltered homelessness was down to 1,107 individuals, a 4% decrease since 2023.
However, despite the progress made in the region, officials in the June 18 webinar said they are concerned the end of pandemic-era funding without sustainable efforts will dampen the organization’s efforts to reduce homelessness in Houston.

The details

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires the local nonprofit to conduct a 10-day snapshot of the city's homeless population—sheltered and unsheltered—in January.

Since 2011, the CFTH has shown a decline in homelessness by 61% in the region.

By the numbers

The report released June 18 showed significant improvements in the region, while also showing a slight increase in cases of self-reported mental health, domestic violence and substance abuse cases.
  • 34% reported serious mental illnesses
  • 26% reported substance use disorders
  • 16% reported experiencing domestic violence
  • 23% reported experiencing chronic homelessness
While African Americans represent 21% of the total population in Harris County, over 60% of those experiencing homelessness in Harris County fall into this demographic.

About 33% of the population cited economic impacts as the reason for homelessness, and 5% reported the COVID-19 pandemic being the primary cause of homelessness.

Approximately 45% of the population reported experiencing homelessness for the first time, an increase from 42% in 2023.

Looking forward

Since 2020, federal COVID-19 relief funds allocated by the city of Houston and Harris County helped the CFTH address homelessness in Houston by creating an encampment response system. In February 2023, the strategy allowed the closure of 127 encampments and led to a decrease of unsheltered homelessness to 33% from 42% in 2020, according to the data shared by CFTH.

The monetary support from the disaster relief funds will come to an end at the end of this year. Without a new form of sustainable funding, the CFTH will face significant challenges to decrease homelessness in the city, President and CEO Kelly Young said in a June 18 webinar.

Young said without sustainable efforts, there could be an increase of about 60%, or roughly 5,200 additional people, who will experience homelessness in the region by the end of 2026. The CFTH estimates it would take at least $50 million a year in addition to sustainable funding to continue on the path to decrease homelessness in Houston.

“I think it's really important for people to recognize that those federal dollars are going to go away. And unless we figure out a stable, consistent way to feed and fund the system, we are going to see ... an increase of individuals on the street again,” Young said.