Survey on Houston’s homeless includes new cities, reveals trends and debunks stereotypes

In this Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017, photo, dozens of homeless people live beneath an overpass for Interstate 59 in Houston. Many of the inhabitants of the tent camp braved Hurricane Harvey there and shrug off the severity of the storm, even as advocates for the homeless fear the aftermath could hit them hardest. (AP Photo/Matt Sedensky)

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The Houston Coalition for the Homeless revealed the results of its annual survey this week, showing a downward trend in homelessness in recent years, while also dispelling some popular myths about the area’s homeless population.

For the first time in its history, the survey — which traditionally covers the homeless populations in Harris and Fort Bend Counties — recorded homeless data for Montgomery County, including cities such as Conroe, Willis and New Caney.

The added cities sustained major damage during Hurricane Harvey last August. The survey found nearly 200 people in Montgomery County are considered homeless, with 149 in shelters and another 44 without shelter.

RELATED: Houston residents demand progress on homeless encampments

The survey also determined more than 3,600 people across the three counties were considered homeless. Out of more than 3,300 reported homeless individuals in Harris County, nearly 2,300 are living in shelters, while more than 1,000 are living on the streets.

The overall homeless population estimation represents a drop of more than 60 percent from the 8,500-plus recorded in the 2011 survey. The number of unsheltered chronic homeless population dropped by more than 80 percent over the same timespan.

Thousands of Houston’s previously homeless individuals found new homes since 2012. According to the survey, more than 5,000 found rapid re-housing, while more than 6,100 found permanent supportive housing.

RELATED: Charities conduct annual census of Houston’s homeless population

As for the chronically homeless, the survey shows  nearly 40 percent had a high school diploma or GED, while more than one in five had at least some college education or a degree.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires an annual survey of the homeless population of all major U.S. cities to determine funding levels for programs geared toward helping homeless individuals and families get the help they need.

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