At her press conference on Jan 23 following the City Council meeting, Mayor Parker introduced Mandy Chapman Simple as the first Special Assistant to the Mayor for Homeless Initiatives. City Council had voted on an ordinance to create the position (item 20 on the agenda) that morning. (see video clip). However, as Mayor Pro Tem Ed Gonzalez pointed out during the meeting, plans for the position were in place last year and the funding was already in the budget. The cost is shared with the Houston Downtown Management District because homelessness problems are most acute in the downtown area.
Ms. Simple first worked with the City of Houston while a technical specialist with Housing and Urban Development. She brings an impressive array of credentials and hands on experience including managing homeless shelters and developing comprehensive programs for case management related to helping homeless persons find stable housing, work, and other needed services. She has been working with Houston's homeless programs for the last year and a half, and already knows local problems, programs and resources.
The Mayor's Office press release explains further:
As Special Assistant to the Mayor for Homeless Initiatives, Ms. Semple will work on behalf of the City to expedite the development and implementation of strategies to address chronic homelessness and more effectively serve Houston's homeless population. Ms. Simple will work with the Mayor, City Council and City Departments, as well as private, public and non-profit stakeholders to carry out a variety of duties, including:
Develop a plan to guide City policies and practices
Develop a strategy to align, leverage and responsibly allocate City resources
Lead interagency collaboration efforts related to development of rapid re-housing strategies, supportive housing and alignment of supportive service resources
Represent the City at external Continuum of Care, planning and implementation meetings
Manage relationships with outside experts and guide technical assistance activities
Coordinate initiatives with the business and philanthropic communities
To learn more about the City of Houston Housing and Community Development Department, visit http://www.houstontx.gov/housing/.