Leaders from Houston and Phoenix were invited to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) meeting to share their expertise on how federal partnerships have positively impacted local efforts to end homelessness.
Mandy Chapman Semple, Special Assistant for Homeless Initiatives to Houston Mayor Annise Parker, testified that Houston is on schedule to end Veteran homelessness in 2014 due to a strong partnership between the VA and Houston’s Continuum of Care. She stated that these two groups have been able to function as a single system and this has led to connecting 2,226 homeless Veteran households to housing while creating a housing-centric system that is able to rapidly re-house households while connecting people to services, employment, and healthcare.
At the same time, Houston has made tremendous progress toward ending chronic homelessness with a housing first approach, connecting 1,402 individuals with permanent supportive housing since 2012 and reducing the unsheltered homeless population by 50%.
Ms. Chapman Semple noted in the expert brief she provided to the Council, that “Health care, mental health treatment, substance abuse, employment, education and economic growth are rarely optimized without adequate housing. However, responses across these sectors often do not recognize their inter-dependence. Houston’s success is the result of understanding the connections between these systems and creating a framework to define when systems can operate in parallel and when they must intersect and interweave.”
She also discussed how Houston was able to take on the creation of an additional 2500 units of permanent supportive housing within three years and addressed policy questions on supported employment (an intervention best suited for people with disabilities who have experienced long-term homelessness).
Click here to read her full testimony.