The state of Homelessness and its impact to Houston-area businesses

HOUSTONThe Coalition For The Homeless wrapped up its annual multi-day count Friday of the homeless population across three counties.

Downtown Houston was among the areas included. One business in the area said the proximity of homeless tents can be an eyesore and has sparked safety concerns among its customers.

Tout Suite Café celebrated the grand opening of its third café, located at Trembly Park, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. It’s located less than two miles from the café's other downtown café on Commerce Street.

“Before we had what was called tent city right in front. And we have big windows, [so] that was our view for a long time,” said Danny Ruiz, General Manager of Tout Suite.

Ruiz said having homeless tents directly across from their café can leave customers with a negative perception that their safety is in jeopardy. He said that hasn’t been the best for business.

“People who are in the suburbs who don’t really know that’s city life will come in and be scared,” Ruiz said. “And I’ve literally had it to where I would have to walk someone to their car just because it’s affecting us. I’m not saying anything against them by any means. We love ‘em. But it’s just like, it does put that second thought to people coming in.”

Ana Rausch is the Vice President of Program Operations with the Coalition For The Homeless.

This week more than volunteers counted and surveyed the homeless population in Harris, Fort Bend, and Montgomery Counties to gauge the state of homelessness.

“People experiencing homelessness are more likely to be victims of a crime than commit a crime so there are a lot of stereotypes around homelessness,” Rausch said.

In 2022, the number of people experiencing homelessness decreased by 20% compared to pre-covid levels in 2020, according to the coalition.

While it may look and feel like that population is growing downtown, Rausch said the official numbers from the count will tell in the Spring.

“The visible signs of homelessness might appear that yes there more people here and there but we have seen, but we’ve house over 26,000 people since 2012,” Rausch said.