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3 Cities Making Headway Against Homelessness — Bakersfield, Columbus, Houston

3 Cities Making Headway Against Homelessness — Bakersfield, Columbus, Houston

Magazine, Living Well

Homelessness is among voters’ top concerns in cities across the country. This briefing looks at 3 cities that are making dramatic gains in addressing the crisis: In January 2020, Bakersfield achieved “functional zero” chronic homelessness — fewer than 3 people in the community experienced chronic homelessness. Houston placed more than 25,000 people in permanent housing since 2011, resulting in a 64% decrease in homelessness. In 2018, Columbus had a 70% rate of successful housing outcome. Speakers from the frontlines in each city addressed the strategies they used and whether they were replicable.

Mary Scott, Executive Team Leader of the Open Door Network (formerly Bakersfield Homeless Center and the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault.) shared how they achieved a zero on the metrics of people considered “chronically homeless” in march 2020. Their success she shared was due to their ability to meet people where they are by making their barriers their responsibility. Through the Milestone Project, they partnered with the local housing authority for rent vouchers. This led to creating their Zillow version for their clients and thus solving homelessness on a case-by-case basis. 

 Marcus J. Salter, Housing Stability Specialist at Community Mediation Services of Central Ohio, said they created a network of housing providers and mental health agencies. These providers align resources to take care of families in need, seniors, veterans, youth, etc. This has led to lower eviction rates by intervening with solutions.

Ana Rausch, Vice President of Program Operations at Coalition for the Homeless, Houston, TX emphasized that the only way to solve homelessness permanently is through housing and supportive services. $65million has been invested in the Community Covid hOUSING Program(CCHP) with a mission to house 5000 people by October 2022. Currently on track to achieve this goal they had housed over 7700 by January 2022 and have set aside $100million 7000 people will be housed by 2024. 

 Matthew Lewis, Director of Communications at California YIMBY works to end homelessness and shared, “There are 60,000 people who go to sleep without a home in California. This is because they lost their home. It’s not due to drugs or mental health.” He explained that Some of the reasons for the loss are because of a medical emergency, a family crisis, or loss of job.


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