Michael Kimmelman, the architecture critic of The New York Times, traveled to Houston to observe an approach to chronic homelessness that has won widespread praise.
Houston, the nation’s fourth-most populous city, has moved more than 25,000 homeless people directly into apartments and houses in the past decade, an overwhelming majority of whom remain housed after two years.
This has been achieved through a “housing first” practice: moving the most vulnerable from the streets directly into apartments, instead of shelters, without individuals being required to do a 12-step program, or to find a job.
Delving into the finer details of the process, Kimmelman considers the different logic “housing first” involves. After all, “when you’re drowning, it doesn’t help if your rescuer insists you learn to swim before returning you to shore,” he writes. “You can address your issues once you’re on land. Or not. Either way, you join the wider population of people battling demons behind closed doors.”
This story was written and narrated by Michael Kimmelman. To hear more audio stories from publications like The New York Times, download Audm for iPhone or Android.