As you know, Mayor Turner released the City’s plan to further address homelessness in Houston, The Way Home. As you also know, in our ongoing work on the homeless issue, we recently visited personally with each At-Large Council Member and the Mayor Pro Tem to ensure that they will support the imminent No Camping ordinance. We’ve sent follow-up notes to each At-Large Council Member and to the Mayor’s Office, including his Chief of Staff, Marc Eichenbaum, and Sean Quitzau, and of course to CM Boykins and his staff, thanking them for their ongoing efforts on this issue. CM Boykins, and the City, are committed to eliminating camping on public property.
Please refer to the actual press release and to the video for accuracy; the Chronicle article is somewhat confusing: http://houstontx.swagit.com/play/0302201...
- To confirm support, we’ll follow up again with each At-Large Council Member after they’ve had a chance to review the Draft Ordinance. To date, support from Council is unanimous for the Mayor’s actions.
- We’ll continue to follow up with the Mayor, his office, and the Office of Homeless Initiatives on this issue.
We expect the ordinance to be voted on after spring break, with enforcement starting after a 30 –day grace period, around the end of April. At that time, people will no longer be allowed to camp and will have the opportunity to move to transitional, managed, low level, capped-number shelters on private property or to locations suggested by District Council Members. Mayor Turner specifically said that he had heard the pleas of those living near the US-59 encampment and their concerns must be answered.
Thank you to the Quality of Life and Safety and Security Committee members for their input on this strategy. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any thoughts or concerns.
The Plan includes six components:
- The Way Home. The Mayor's Office on the Homeless Initiative will aggressively seek additional housing over the next six months. As part of that effort, Star of Hope will be opening a 215 bed facility off Reed Road for women and children.
- The city is also pursuing opening one or more covered outdoor spaces where up to 75 individuals can stay temporarily. When individuals are told they can no longer stay in one place, they will be offered another place to go to.
- The Mayor will introduce a new ordinance (prohibiting camping on public property) to city council with the goal of voting on the ordinance in the week after spring break. Enforcement will begin 30 days after passage of the ordinance. The city will develop parking and economic development spaces where encampments are currently located.
- Panhandling will be addressed through a Public Service Announcement Campaign (funded by the management districts-thank you HouSE and Midtown). Campaign slogan-"Meaningful Change--Not Spare Change." The city also will implement a pilot program to send vans out to common panhandling sites to connect panhandlers to the Texas Workforce Commission in order to bring these individuals to a workplace.
- The city will continue to collaborate with charitable organizations who feed the hungry to ensure these organizations are working in tandem with social service organizations that offer additional services. Feeding alone does not work.
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse issues require increased funding. The city's governmental team will continue to work at the state and federal level to secure additional funding for those dealing with these issues. The city is working with Harris County to develop more resources to address mental health and substance abuse including additional detox facilities.