Houston to explore possibility of turning METRO property into safe outdoor living space for homeless

HOUSTON – The city of Houston is possibly converting a METRO property into a temporary, outdoor safe space for the homeless.

City officials, the Houston Recovery Center and METRO are looking into the possibility of creating a safe and healthy environment for the homeless, as they work with agencies to create permanent housing options.

The temporary shelter would be located in part of a METRO bus depot at McKee Street along the Buffalo Bayou.

The six-month pilot program would provide 24-hour security, supportive services and professional management.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced his plans in March to increase advanced emergency shelter and permanent housing options for the homeless.

Marilyn Brown, president and CEO of the Coalition for the Homeless, said while it's not a long-term solution, she applauds the effort.

"To move people to a place with security should be a win-win for the neighborhoods as well as those truly homeless," Brown said.

Shere Dore, an advocate for the homeless, agreed it was a good first step but was eager to hear more details from the city.

"The homeless community, all they have is their tent and their belongings. That's their entire world. I would hope, with this, they would be able to continue to utilize their tent, have their own little free space," Dore said.

After living on the streets off and on for the last nine years, John B. said he was "game" for the new temporary shelter, but hoping for a permanent place to call home soon.

"The housing authority, the city needs to get together and get these places up and running to where people can get in them. Stop b.s.'ing about it 'cause I'm in that situation," he said.

The Houston Metropolition Transit Board of Directors will vote Thursday on whether to enter an agreement with the city, allowing it to use the space.

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