FTEH Logo   

Volume 1, Issue 1

Editor: Jennifer Wagner

September 19, 2012

In This Issue
Leadership Group
Harris County Neurosychiatric Center
US Vets/Midtown Terrace Facility
Veterans Court
Federal Reserve Economic Research Department
Houston Housing Authority
Continuum of Care Steering Committee
Houston/Harris County/Fort Bend County Community Planning Charrette
Public/Private Partnerships
Advocacy Highlight

Leadership Group:


The Andrews Foundation


Bank of America


Baxter Trust


Harry S. and Isabel C. Cameron Foundation


City of Houston Housing & Community Development Deptartment


Enrico & Sandra Di Portanova Charitable Foundation 


Ray C. Fish Foundation


The Frees Foundation


Greater Houston Community Foundation


Harris County Community Services Department


Houston Endowment Inc.


Houston Housing Authority


Lowenstein Foundation


Robert & Janice McNair Foundation


One Voice Texas


The Powell Foundation 


Prudential Financial


Rockwell Fund


The Simmons Foundation


St. Luke's Episcopal Health Charities


St. Luke's United Methodist Church


St. Martin's Episcopal Church


United Way of Greater Houston



Quick Links

Houston Affiliate Newsletter


Welcome to our first edition of FTEH-Houston.   Our goal is to supply information on site visits and educational sessions FTEH has accomplished.  We want everyone to feel united as we are all striving for the same goal - Ending Homelessness! 



The purpose of the Funders Together to End Homelessness-Greater Houston is to build a local network of funders who are committed to reducing  homelessness through leadership, education, and advocacy; strategic collaboration and grantmaking; and effective promotion and replication of best-practice models in Greater Houston.

Harris County Neuropsychiatric Center

On June 14th, several members of the FTEH advocacy workgroup visited the Harris County Neuropsychiatric Center located in the Medical Center. The group had an opportunity to tour the facility and hear from Barbara Dawson, Director of MHMRA Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Programs, Betty Nissen of MHMRA Psychiatric Emergency Services and Sgt. Patrick Plourde of the HPD Mental Health Unit. The collaboration of MHMRA and HPD is drawing national attention for its innovative work in serving this at-risk population. The joint services to these clients are working to keep this population more stabilized and at reduced risk for homelessness or time in jail.


We were delighted to be informed of the support that was already being provided by The Simmons Foundation for this effort.  


More information about this excellent collaborative effort will be provided at the November 29th FTEH Meeting. 
Stephanie Foy

US Vets / Midtown Terrace Facility

The general July meeting of FTEH was held on the 26th at the US Vets Midtown Terrace facility. It was very well attended and we had the opportunity to hear from a panel of experts on veteran homelessness; Tom Mitchell, Executive Director, US Vets- Texas, Tony Soloman, Veterans Behavioral Health Coordinator, Mental Health America , John Boerstler, Houston for Wounded Warriors Project and Co-founder, Lone Star Veterans Association.


The veterans cited the differences in the needs and challenges of the veterans of different eras; Vietnam versus post 9/11. Many more of the homeless veterans are older Vietnam veterans. These are part of the target population for the 100 in 100 days campaign that was underway during the visit (see article on that effort in this issue).   Many of the post 9/11 veterans have short-term housing challenges, but major challenges with employment, mental health, and physical injuries. All of these groups suggested that in general there is better planning and services available for the post 9/11 vets in part as a result from learning what we did not do well after Vietnam.


We also had chance to see the current facility and see the new addition under construction. The current facility is single room occupancy and houses only males. This will also be true of the new facility.


Stephanie Foy

Veterans Court

The FTEH Advocacy Workgroup visited the Veterans Court on August 9th. Although the court was not in session at that time, we had an opportunity to hear from Judge Marc Carter, Presiding Veterans Court Judge, Mary Covington, Program Manager, Shannon Davis , Prosecutor, Adam Brown, Defense Attorney, Pat McCann, Defense Attorney, Cindy Clark, Probation Officer, Marty Guzman, Probation Officer, Dr. Andrea Stolar, Forensic Psychiatrist - Baylor College of Medicine/VA Hospital  and several graduates of the program.


The goal of the court is to prevent the veteran from having a conviction.  Since there is a connection between the illness and their offense, for those veterans that have a confirmed diagnosis, the opportunity of the court is to have a pretrial diversion or to have their record expunged if they successfully complete the program. The court program offers on-site registration for VA benefits and integrated services for general and mental health, addiction treatment, and case management.  The need for temporary and/or transitional housing is often an issue as well. Often veterans that have been homeless have animals and that further complicates the housing situation. Challenges and needs cited were housing for women veterans and especially those with children as well as services for veterans' family members.  


Houston has been quite innovative in developing the court and coordinating the resources available to serve the veterans and serves as a model for other courts/jurisdictions seeking to provide more just treatment for veterans.


Stephanie Foy

The Federal Reserve Economic Research Department

 Funders Together convened a meeting of community representatives, all working with vulnerable populations/homeless, to discuss the possibility of the Federal Reserve functioning as research partner in a cost study on homelessness in Houston/Harris County.   After an in depth discussion with the community partners assembled, the Federal Reserve business economist, Jesse Thompson, suggested conducting a cost study that would measure cost/benefit of an "intervention" versus a homeless population that does not receive the intervention.  The intervention studied would be permanent supportive housing.   There was consensus from the group  that having outcomes demonstrating the effectiveness and cost savings of permanent supportive housing for the chronic homeless versus the cost of using high cost services like emergency rooms, hospital stays, incarceration, shelters, etc. would be valuable.   Our Houston community is moving toward a housing centric, homeless crisis response system and getting homeless individuals and families stably housed is the goal.   Research on the effectiveness of permanent supportive housing will help build support for implementing our community's supportive housing plan.


Nancy Frees Fountain

National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference

Attending the Conference on Ending Homelessness, hosted by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, in Washington D.C. in mid-July and found it to be an incredibly valuable experience for learning trends in the field, the growing pains of systems change and a wonderful opportunity to meet and network with Funders Together to End Homelessness staff and national representatives. There were many talented professionals there that not only were able to share their expertise working to end homelessness, but much of the conversation threaded through each session was decidedly candid about bumps in the road and recommendations on how to face those and avoid them. In one of the first sessions about "Funding What Works" Anne Miskey, Executive Director of Funders Together to End Homelessness, shared the unique collaboration that is happening in Houston and how they are looking to our region for new strategies in funding collaboration, without even realizing two Houston funders were in the room. The excitement and energy from the national staff and board was contagious and they were so glad to have us on board and couldn't say enough about how thrilled and interested they are in the work we are doing in Houston.


In addition to attending the conference, Amanda Cloud joined Ann Miskey, Nan Roman and several FTEH board members in a meeting with representatives from Health and Human Services.  The meeting included Bryan Samuels, Commissioner, Administration on Children, Youth and Families and other members of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.  The group discussed current issues such as the Affordable Care Act, homeless youth as a focus of new data collection and ways in which philanthropy can partner with HHS or USICH to impact the homeless population nationally.


Kelly Opot

Amanda Cloud

Houston Housing Authority

leading unprecedented community-wide effort to house

Houston's heroes.  101 chronically homeless military veterans with disabilities getting homes, social services, and job assistance in first 101 days.


HOUSTON-Heroes who once risked their lives to defend their country but now are homeless will get much needed assistance from an unprecedented, community-wide effort to house chronically homeless military veterans with disabilities.


The Houston Housing Authority and the VA teamed with organizations ranging from Harris County Community Services to SEARCH to develop a bold plan to find homes for veterans who are in danger of dying in Houston's streets. In the first 101 days of the intensive effort, 101 chronically homeless individuals now have a place to call home.


"These brave men and women served our country, and now their lives are at risk on the same streets that thousands of us drive by every day," said Houston Housing Authority President & CEO Tory Gunsolley. "We cut through all the red tape and brought together all of the resources available from all of the numerous partners to help these veterans find safe, affordable homes and a fresh start."

Other organizations participating in the unprecedented effort include the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the City of Houston's Office of Veteran Affairs, U.S. Department of Housing and Community Development, Harris County Housing Authority, Harris County Community Services Department, SEARCH, the Housing Corporation, Career and Recovery Resources, Inc., Catholic Charities, Goodwill Industries, Neighborhood Centers, Inc., US Vets, Cloudbreak Communities, Healthcare for the Homeless, Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority, the Houston Police Department and the Houston Coalition for the Homeless.



The Houston Housing Authority provides affordable homes and services to more than 60,000 low-income Houstonians, including over 17,000 families housed through the Housing Choice Voucher Program and another 5,500 living in 25 public housing and tax credit developments around the city. HHA also administers the nation's third largest voucher program exclusively serving homeless veterans. More information about HHA can be found at:

Continuum of Care Steering Committee

Thank you for the opportunity to represent Funders Together to End Homelessness on the Continuum of Care Committee (CoC). It has been interesting and exciting to be involved in the start-up of this community-wide collaborative to end homelessness. The CoC is the lead decision-making body responsible for the strategic planning and coordination of US Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD's) HEARTH Continuum of Care resources and the coordination of these funds with other relevant area resources. It is also responsible for managing community planning, coordination and evaluation to ensure that the system of homeless services and housing rapidly and permanently ends homelessness.


The Steering Committee met on August 15, 2012 to discuss roles and responsibilities and committee structure. Membership was set for up to 17 individuals, each serving for two years and representing groups from both public and private stakeholders in Houston/Harris and Fort Bend Counties. Twelve members are currently participating and 17 are expected by January 2013. The committee is drafting bylaws and a committee chair will be nominated after the first of the year. The committee is also considering a name change and welcomes suggestions. 


Celene Meyer

Houston/Harris County/Fort Bend County Community Planning Charrette

Congratulations to the Charrette Planning Committee and the Coalition for the Homeless on a very successful and well organized event. In case you are not familiar with the term, a Charrette is an intensive planning process. In this particular case, the Charrette was used to jumpstart and streamline how our community develops or updates its Community Action Plan to End Homelessness.


The Charrette was held from August 20-21, 23 and 28 and brought together more than 450 individuals focused on ending and preventing homelessness in this region. I attended the first two days and was delighted at the quality of the information from national, regional, state and local experts and consumers. I especially appreciated the input from the consumers. Their shared experiences and proposed solutions helped us focus on the people and not just the numbers. I thought it was also interesting how frequently providers commented on their lack of information about other services. Mayor Annise Parker gave the opening address on Monday, August 20 expressing her support and announced her plan to appoint a Homeless Coordinator in the near future.


The full report can be viewed at: http://www.homelesshouston.org/hh/Action_Plan.asp


Celene Meyer

Public/Private Partnerships:

An Effective Way to Address Our Community's Needs


A public/private partnership. I'm never quite sure what the reaction will be when I mention this concept to a colleague. Some in the funding community immediately say, "No, we don't fund those kinds of projects." Some don't quite know what that kind of project looks like. A smaller, yet ever-increasing, number respond with a smile and a nod that say yes, we see the value in those.


What is a public/private partnership?


A public/private partnership is best described as one that pulls resources from some public entity, such as a local government, and combines it with resources, usually financial, from private philanthropy. The reason behind these types of projects is simple. Local, state, and federal governments simply don't have the means to address the plethora of needs in our communities. Private philanthropy, even with all of our combined resources, can't do this on its own either. Therefore, combining our efforts maximizes the effectiveness of our work.


A need for a public/private partnership


During this first year of the FTEH-Houston chapter's activities, we've made a very conscientious effort to educate ourselves on the multi-faceted and complex issues that surround homelessness. As such, our chapter is unique in that it has brought to the table private and public funders to expand our conversation of homelessness in Houston.


Even though most of the members of the FTEH-Houston chapter have and continue to provide support to initiatives that work with those affected by homelessness, our group's activities this year have introduced us to a wider array of individuals and organizations dedicated to meeting our community's extensive needs. Some have come from unlikely places.


One of those programs is the Houston Police Department's Homeless Outreach Team (HOT), a program of the Department's internationally recognized Mental Health Unit. In a departure from traditional policing, the HOT, made up of a sergeant, two officers, and a case manager from our local mental health authority, is a shining example of a proactive, community policing program that partners with local social service agencies, housing providers, and non-profits to help homeless individuals overcome barriers that keep them on the streets or that result in their incarceration. The HOT, which travels the streets of Houston on a daily basis, does everything from helping individuals obtain proper identification to getting people placed in permanent housing, and everything in between.


Until now, the HOT has relied on a mechanically-challenged 1999 van that, due to its lack of a ramp, forces the officers to manually lift wheel-chair bound individuals into the vehicle. As is the case throughout the nation, city budget constraints have not allowed for the acquisition of a new van. This is where members of FTEH-Houston decided to step in.


A Houston example


The Simmons Foundation and the Frees Foundation, both active members of FTEH-Houston, have joined forces to fund the purchase of a new, wheelchair accessible van for the HOT. This fairly simple, one-time allocation will ensure that the work of the Team and its partners is able to continue well into the future.


By making the effort to learn about the work already being done by our local police department, we have been able to form a partnership that is, in our eyes, a great first venture into the world of public/private partnerships for the FTEH-Houston chapter. As we continue developing our collective role and exploring the exciting possibilities ahead, we hope this small yet meaningful investment will inspire other funders in our community to look beyond the status quo and consider the vast possibilities that public/private partnerships have to offer us and the communities we aim to serve.


Amanda Cloud

Lillian Ortiz



Advocacy Highlight-Homelessness and Mental Health


Homelessness. Due to the complexities of what may lead individuals and families into and keep them in homelessness, the mere word conjures up a stream of mental images and scenarios for all of us. More likely than not, one of those images is that of someone with obvious signs of mental illness.


The sheer nature of serious and persistent mental illness requires a coordinated, consistent, and evidence-based system of care that, in order to be truly successful, includes access to supportive housing. Unfortunately for those living with these illnesses in our community, access to effective mental health treatment and support services, including housing, is not as readily available as it needs to be so as to allow these individuals to lead healthy and productive lives.


As FTEH-Houston continues its work to more effectively understand and address the multi-faceted issues surrounding homelessness, it's important to remember that being an advocate for the homeless also means being an advocate for those with mental illness.


There are many ways to be an advocate for the most vulnerable members of our community, from working directly with public officials to simply educating your friends, families, and colleagues on mental illness and its tie to homelessness. Every one of us has the potential and ability to add a little more to the cause in our own way, and FTEH-Houston will continue to explore these possibilities in the near future. Together, we can make a real difference in the lives of those who most need an advocate.


Lillian Ortiz



September 27

Funders Together - General Meeting

New Community Action Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness

The Role of Funders

Place: Greater Houston Community Foundation

5120 Woodway Drive, Suite 6000

Time:  11:30AM - 1:30PM


September 26-28

Texas Conference on Ending Homelessness

Omni Houston Galleria Hotel

4 Riverway, Houston TX


October 8

Pre-Legislative Conference

Building a Stronger Community-Advocates for High Quality Health and Human Services

Host: One Voice Texas, Harris County Healthcare Alliance and the United Way

 Place: United Way of Greater Houston

50 Waugh Drive, Houston, TX 

Time: 8:30AM - 4:30PM

Contact: Lillian Ortiz at [email protected]


October 12

Funders Together - Special Meeting

Alliance for Justice

Advocacy Lunch and Learn

Host: One Voice Texas

Place: United Way of Greater Houston

50 Waugh Drive

Time: 11:30AM - 1:30PM

Contact: Lillian Ortiz at [email protected]


November 29

Funders Together - General Meeting

"Best Practices in Mental Health Interventions Targeting Vulnerable Populations/Homeless"

Presenters: MHMRA, Houston Police Department

Mental Health Unit/Homeless Outreach Team

Place: Greater Houston Community Foundation

5120 Woodway Drive, Suite 6000

Time:  11:30AM - 1:30PM


February 21-22, 2013

National Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessness

National Alliance to End Homelessness

Sheraton Seattle Hotel

Seattle, Washington


Please take a moment and check out the FTEH website:
Promote Effective Solutions to Homelessness.
Join Funders Together Today!
Through Funders Together, you can connect with other funders like you, share lessons learned and promising practices, and help build the movement to end homelessness in Houston.  Your voice can help make the difference in your community and accross the country.
Contact Houston Project Manager, Stephanie Foy at [email protected] with any questions about membership.


Feel free to forward on to anyone with interest!