Houston Tent Cities Seemingly Multiply Amid Efforts to End Homelessness

Out-of-town baseball fans, and Astros fans alike, are coming face-to-face with Houston's homeless tent cities along major thoroughfares leading to Minute Maid Park.

The city already has conducted multiple “deep cleansings” of a popular homeless site closest to the stadium.

“We can't clear them out, that would be against the law,” says Marc Eichenbaum with the city's Office for Homeless Initiatives. “It's public property owned by TxDOT that members of the public are on.”

Houston Coalition for the Homeless says homelessness has been cut in half since 2011 in the Harris-Fort Bend-Montgomery County area.

“They're actively engaging with these individuals every day,” says Ana Rausch, the coalition's senior research project manager. "Many of them have been homeless for a very long time and are facing multiple barriers to housing such as multiple illness, substance use disorder, so getting them into permanent housing does not happen overnight.”

Mayoral candidate Bill King says he understands it's a complex problem with no clear solution, but he still thinks the Turner administration is not doing enough.

“You've got 20 or 30 young people sleeping in sleeping bags out there in front of our main public library right now,” he says. “This is how a city begins to collapse, not being able to dealing with issues like this because you're going to run other folks off.”

King believes many are convicted felons who cannot find work or a place to live. He suggests working with local churches to see how they can play a larger role in trying to get these people headed in the right direction.

Fellow mayoral candidate Tony Buzbee thinks too many homeless advocates are working on their own, he pledged to bring all those elements together under one umbrella.

“People visit the city of Houston and they see ten cities everywhere, that's probably not a good look for us,” he says. “Just from a humanitarian perspective, we can do a lot better. We have to be firm, but we have to be compassionate.”

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