Houston, Harris County each pledge $5 million to mental health center for homeless

The city of Houston and Harris County each invested $5 million in a new respite and rehabilitation center for people experiencing homelessness.

a group of people sitting at a table

© Marie D. De Jesús, Houston Chronicle / Staff Photographer

The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD will operate the new building, aimed at unsheltered individuals who are experiencing mental health issues. In Harris County, about 15 to 20 percent of people have severe mental health problems.


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The new center will focus not only on intensive care for behavioral health issues, but look ahead to how people will transition out of the shelter. The length of estimated stay will vary based on the program an individual is in: A projected mental health supportive housing program would house people anywhere from 3 months to a year, while a medical respite program would usually only keep people 5 to 10 days.

The center would also have beds set aside for reentry for people leaving the Harris County Jail who don’t have a place to go, a jail diversion area and several beds to restore people to competency before trial.

The recommendation comes from a Harris County task force on homelessness. Other recommendations include a yearly commitment from the county to homelessness, more resources for eviction prevention, a homeless court program and more support for domestic violence victims.

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