With homeless spikes everywhere throughout the country, it is understandable why U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH)/U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would attempt to label Houston a “Housing First success story”.
However, in addition to reclassifying a significant portion of their homeless by simply converting transitional housing units to rapid rehousing units with the same people inside– those in transitional housing are considered homeless but those in rapid rehousing are no longer homeless– Houston fails to acknowledge and address the significant increase in homeless children and families in the community. This is not only a moral failure, the long-term ramifications of their denial will also have serious consequences for the region.
Research shows that unaddressed childhood trauma—called Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)—is significantly related to homelessness. Three or more adverse childhood experiences are linked to a substantially increased risk of chronic health problems, teen pregnancy, criminality, mental illness, injection drug use, alcoholism, and attempted suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Traumatized children grow into traumatized adults, unless their trauma is properly addressed, according to the Center for Youth Wellness.
As we indicate in our piece below, Houston deserves credit for reducing its homeless population, but sensationalizing it—just as the feds did with Utah several years back– is premature at best.