In the early 1990s, Spring Branch Independent School District (SBISD) sought to identify the reason for chronic student mobility and poor standardized test scores in several schools. A task force was formed to identify both the cause of student mobility and a solution to combat the poor education these transient students received. The task force revealed the cause to be poverty and homelessness. Students were transferring from one school to the next because their parent(s) could not afford a stable home for the family. These families were being evicted from one apartment complex’s “$99 Move-In” special to another offering “First 3 Months Free.” Some were doubling and tripling up in small apartments with other families. When poor credit ratings prevented apartment living, the families became homeless, vacillating between shelters, cars, and rat-infested motels.
At the same time, social service agencies in Spring Branch were providing emergency assistance to the same clientele every few months. Clearly, the assistance they were providing was not resulting in permanent changes or addressing the root causes of poverty.
Recognizing that homelessness is more than just a housing issue, the Westside Homeless Prevention (WHP) program was specifically designed to address the interrelated causes of homelessness that families living in SBISD were facing and that no other non-profit organization in Spring Branch was addressing. Since our incorporation in 1994, WHP has been faithful to its mission to help homeless children and their families break the cycle of homelessness in Spring Branch. Beginning in March 2016 WHP expanded the Hand Up program to Katy ISD and is now happy to serve a large section of West Houston.