Last August, Hurricane Harvey set records as the costliest hurricane in history and the wettest tropical cyclone ever in the U.S. The storm displaced more than 30,000 people, many of whom are still struggling to recover in the aftermath. A new report from The Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County documents the notable increase in homelessness since the devastating hurricane.
The results of the Coalition’s Point-In-Time Homeless Count and Survey, which occurred from January 23 to 25 of this year, were released during a “State of Homelessness” panel discussion at the Junior League in downtown Houston on May 23. More than 4,100 people were surveyed to gather data for the report, and 18 percent of those surveyed reported that they had become homeless as a result of Hurricane Harvey.
The survey was conducted by the Coalition on behalf of the local Continuum of Care, also known as The Way Home, an organization formed to provide a planning process for addressing homelessness as required by federal regulations. In 1994, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development implemented a requirement that communities receiving federal funding must submit a single, comprehensive application detailing how they plan to address homelessness. The Continuum of Care serves this need.
Related: The public health impact of Hurricane Harvey is worse than we’ve been told
President and CEO of the Coalition for the Homeless Marilyn Brown explained that Hurricane Harvey made it difficult for the Coalition to address the rising problems of homelessness in Houston, with funds spread thin to meet increasing needs. While all major cities in Texas reported a recent rise in homelessness, the increase in Houston is notably higher, likely because of Hurricane Harvey’s continued impact on the region. Meanwhile, cities are preparing for the upcoming hurricane season, which may have an especially devastating effect on people struggling with homelessness.