Mar 14, 2023 - News

Houston closes homeless encampment near downtown

A stop sign at the intersection of Hutchins and Pierce streets in Houston, with a homeless encampment in the background

Fifty people used to live underneath Interstate 45 near Hutchins Street. Now, most are in transition housing. Photo: Jay R. Jordan/Axios

The City of Houston last week decommissioned its second large homeless encampment since opening a new transition housing center for unhoused Houstonians in February.

Why it matters: The city has a goal to close all large encampments by the end of the year, the Houston Chronicle reports.

The big picture: The city's effort to decommission camps and move unhoused residents into the Navigation Center is part of an overarching program called The Way Home, which includes more than 100 nonprofits.

Driving the news: Employees for agencies involved with The Way Home swept through the so-called Emancipation Encampment underneath Interstate 45 near Interstate 69 for five days last week, moving residents and their belongings.

  • Of the 50 residents at the camp, 31 were moved into the Navigation Center and one moved into permanent housing immediately. The remaining 18 residents refused to move to the Navigation Center and moved elsewhere.

Details: At the transition center, residents can receive health care services, such as treatment for mental health and substance abuse, and employment assistance, all while the city works to move them into permanent housing.

What they're saying: "This place has brought me a lot of hope and joy," Helen Rogers, who moved into the center after the camp near Minute Maid Park was decommissioned, told Axios. "I was empty inside. Being around them, they give a lot of love and encouragement, everything that I was missing. I feel a lot better since I walked in those doors. I didn't think anyone cared."

By the numbers: 3,200 people were unhoused in the region as of 2022, the most recent data available.

  • That number has dwindled down from 8,400 in 2011.
  • Since 2016, Houston has housed more than 21,000 people experiencing homelessness through similar initiatives, according to the city.

Between the lines: The moves come as Houston works to bolster its affordable housing stock.

  • "We don't necessarily want to build more navigation centers," Marc Eichenbaum, the mayor's special assistant for homeless initiatives, told the Chronicle. "What we need is more housing."

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to say employees for agencies involved with The Way Home worked to decommission the homeless encampment.

avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Houston.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Houston stories

Houstonpostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Houston.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more