Annual count records an increase of homeless individuals in the Greater Houston area

For the first time in seven years, an annual count measuring the number of homeless individuals in the Greater Houston area has recorded an increase, which nonprofit officials said could be a result of Hurricane Harvey.

For the first time in seven years, an annual count measuring the number of homeless individuals in the Greater Houston area has recorded an increase, which nonprofit officials said could be a result of Hurricane Harvey.

For the first time in seven years, an annual count measuring the number of homeless individuals in the Greater Houston area has recorded an increase, which nonprofit officials said could be a result of Hurricane Harvey.

This year's count—which took place over a three-day period in January—identified 4,143 individuals as homeless, which is an increase from the 3,605 individuals identified last year, according to a report outlining the count's results.

Prior to this increase, the number of people recorded in the annual count has decreased every year since the inaugural count in 2011. From 2011 to 2016, the count took place in Harris and Fort Bend counties; however, Montgomery County was added last year.

Despite this year's increase, the total number of individuals experiencing homelessness in the Greater Houston area has decreased 51.48 percent since the initial count identified 8,538 individuals in 2011.



This year's increase reflects an increase in the number of homeless individuals identified as unsheltered, or staying in places not meant for human habitation. Last year, 1,128 people were identified as unsheltered, while 2,477 were identified as sheltered. This year 1,614 people were identified as unsheltered, while 2,529 people were identified as sheltered.

Marilyn Brown, president of the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston—which is the leading organization for the count—said this year's increase can be primarily attributed to the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, which flooded 120,000 structures in Harris County.

"[During the count] about 18 percent of unsheltered people said Harvey was the reason they are homeless," Brown said. "And for Harvey people, they said it was their first time [being homeless]."

Brown said the challenge facing the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston, its partners and government entities is to help rehouse the many individuals who are now homeless because of Harvey. She said this requires additional funding because the organization's federal funding is tied to helping individuals who have experienced long-term homelessness.

"Up until Harvey, our main focus had been on chronic, long-term individual homelessness," Brown said. "The government is trying to play catch up with us because of Harvey."

Read the full report outlining the 2018 count below.
Read the full report outlining the 2018 count below.