Human Services

SEARCH Homeless Services

Houston, TX


SEARCH Homeless Services pursues a mission of providing hope, creating opportunity, and transforming lives for the thousands of homeless men, women, and children experiencing homelessness in Houston.

Ruling Year


Principal Officer

Ms. Thao Costis

Main Address

2015 Congress Ave.

Houston, TX 77002 USA

Formerly Known As

Service of the Emergency Aid Resource Center


SEARCH children food employment homeless preschool literacy jobs





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Homeless Services/Centers (P85)

Kindergarten, Nursery Schools, Preschool, Early Admissions (B21)

Employment Training (J22)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is not required to file an annual return with the IRS because it is a church.

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Programs + Results

What we aim to solve

On any given night, almost 4,000 individuals in Houston sleep on the streets or in a homeless shelter. Over the course of a year, as many as 58,000 will experience homelessness in our community. Beyond the devastating experience of homelessness itself, these incredibly vulnerable people often have high special needs, including serious physical ailments, mental health conditions, or substance abuse disorders, that compromise their ability to care for themselves. Others have been on the street so long that it can be an ongoing struggle to gain their trust and motivate them to want to move from the streets into housing. Being homeless takes an especially terrible toll on children, negatively affecting their physical and mental health as well as their ability to learn. Without proper interventions, homeless students will enter kindergarten up to two years behind their more-advantaged peers – a gap that will only widen over time. While progress has been made, the need is still great.

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Engage and Stabilize




Where we work

Charting Impact

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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

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What have they accomplished so far and what's next?

SEARCH’s ultimate goal is to achieve a Houston without homelessness by facilitating meaningful behavior change that helps people break the cycle of homelessness and live a more rich, healthier, and self-sufficient life. SEARCH offers data-driven subject matter expertise about serving people who are homeless at the system level and provides skilled case management and client support to men, women and children who are experiencing homelessness. We aim to make homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring, through programs and services designed to meet the complex needs of our city's ever-changing homeless population. We effectively engage people from the street and help them through each stage of the process, ensure their successful navigation into housing, and help build their self-sufficiency through increased income, improved mental and physical health, housing stability, and, once housed, connection to community. SEARCH’s strategic focus is to: (a) be a leader and subject matter expert; (b) facilitate the system’s ending homelessness, and (c) break the cycle of homelessness. SEARCH works with three primary client groups: individuals and families currently experiencing homelessness, formerly homeless individuals and families who’ve been housed but are not yet stable, and children aged 21 months – 5 years old enrolled at SEARCH’s House of Tiny Treasures preschool while their parents are working to change their futures. Our programs and services are designed to transition men, women, and children more effectively and faster into homes and toward positive exits. Toward that end, SEARCH has adopted the following specific and admittedly ambitious goals: 1. Increase the speed out of homelessness (ultimately to 30 days). Engage and move people as quickly as possible from the streets into stable housing. 2. Accelerate positive exits within housing (to three years). Transition residents as quickly as possible from supportive services toward independence (i.e., build income, resilience, and confidence/knowledge to problem solve for the future). 3. Invest in the next generation at our House of Tiny Treasures preschool. Set up parents and children enrolled at HTT with building blocks for a stronger, more stable future.

Engagement and Stabilization: SEARCH’s Outreach Team travels throughout Houston providing on-the-spot housing assessments, interventions, and referrals to individuals living on the streets. SEARCH’s Housing Navigators then facilitate the complex and often overwhelming process of finding and moving into a home once a client is approved for permanent housing. Housing: Knowing that newly housed residents will need ongoing attention and guidance to stabilize their lives, improve their health, and remain in housing, SEARCH co-locates our staff members at the various housing sites to provide skilled case management for our clients to help ensure that their housing is sustained and the client gains self-sufficiency and stability. We currently have more than 700 clients housed through our various programs whom we continue to work with on an ongoing basis. Through the addition of new housing sites and programs, we are in the process of expanding our capacity, and we soon will be working with more than 800 formerly homeless clients at any point in time. Income: Ensuring that our clients have steady income is a key goal of SEARCH in helping homeless individuals and families regain their independence. Once our clients move into housing, we work with them to ensure that they secure a stable source of income, whether through employment, social security or disability benefits, or other resources. Education: SEARCH's House of Tiny Treasures is a nationally accredited preschool that provides developmentally focused early childhood education to children, ages 21 months – 5 years old, whose families have been impacted by homelessness. Nutritious meals, education, and intensive art, play, and speech therapy address students’ needs and prepare them to be successful in kindergarten and beyond. Family Services: As we strive to end family homelessness, our new Family Services division will provide families that are or recently have been homeless with supports designed to strengthen and stabilize their lives.

SEARCH brings together and coordinates a broad range of resources to carry out its work: • Partnership with shelters and other agencies to fill the gaps for individuals struggling to change their lives. • Subject matter expertise in serving people who are homeless at the system level and providing skilled case management and client support to individuals and families experiencing homelessness. • Well-trained, highly-skilled, experienced, and committed staff, including social workers and social service providers, who work one-on-one as case managers for clients facing challenges and obstacles in their lives. • Evidence-based practices such as motivational interviewing to engage some of Houston’s most challenged men, women and children living on the street and to help them through the navigation process into housing stability and self-sufficiency. • The Way Home – SEARCH is a leader and key partner in The Way Home, Houston’s community-wide collaborative action plan to end homelessness. In addition to the Coalition for the Homeless, the City, and the Houston and Harris County Housing Authorities, SEARCH collaborates with numerous organizations, including New Hope Housing, the Beacon, Healthcare for the Homeless, the Downtown Management District, Salvation Army, Star of Hope, the Housing Corporation, and many others. • SEARCH works with housing providers to place clients into homes and then provides ongoing, intensive case management and wrap-around supportive services. Partners in this effort include the Houston and Harris County Housing Authorities and the City of Houston, as well as New Hope Housing, Temenos, and other housing providers. • To help our clients improve their health, SEARCH, in partnership with Healthcare for the Homeless-Houston and New Hope Housing, has incorporated a unique integrated care model into our housing program that combines physical and behavioral health services, clinical case management, and care coordination services with registered nurses and community health workers working on premises at some of our housing sites. • Street Outreach efforts are carried out in close collaboration with several community partners, including Healthcare for the Homeless, the Houston Police Department - Homeless Outreach Team, Star of Hope, The Council on Recovery, the Houston Recovery Center, the Harris Center for Mental Health & IDD, and others. Staff from these organizations visit the encampments together in order to offer an array of different services and to help get the residents there get moving more quickly into housing. • SEARCH’s Council of Congregations represents diverse ethnic, social, and spiritual backgrounds and provides spiritual guidance, volunteers, financial support, in-kind resources, and opportunities for people in need. • SEARCH’s volunteers help us carry out our programs and operations. Last year, more than 900 volunteers contributed over 4,100 hours at SEARCH and our House of Tiny Treasures.

Reducing time someone is homeless. SEARCH’s Housing Navigators help clients navigate the complex process of becoming housed. Before Houston’s systems approach, it took 220 days on average for someone approved for housing to move into an apartment. In FY19, our average time from enrollment to move-in was 56 days, and our Housing Navigators moved 47 clients into housing in less than 30 days. Keeping formerly chronically homeless individuals housed. We achieved a housing retention rate of 82%, exceeding the HUD benchmark of 80%. Given the numerous challenges and barriers our clients face, this is a remarkable result that demonstrates the effectiveness of the Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) model and our case management services. Decreasing ER usage. Our Integrated Care model targets chronically homeless individuals who are high utilizers of hospital and ER care. Through this model, which combines permanent housing with behavioral and physical healthcare and clinical case management, we reduced ER usage by 71% among residents who’ve been in the program for 2 years and improved health status to a clinically meaningful degree. Quality Programs - 6 of 7 of SEARCH’s PSH projects received National Quality Standards Certification by the Corporation for Supportive Housing. (The 7th is pending.) This stamp of approval verifies that our housing programs have been identified as among the best nationwide. Continuing quantitative progress toward achieving the following target objectives: • Increasing the speed out of homelessness (ultimately to 30 days); • Accelerating positive exits within housing (to three years); • Investing in the next generation at our House of Tiny Treasures (exceeding 90% attendance; working closely with at least 40 families so that at least half will increase their stability by obtaining housing, securing a job, increasing their employability, or increasing their income).

Through the work of SEARCH and our community partners in The Way Home: • More than 17,000 homeless individuals have been housed through The Way Home since 2012. • We have placed more than 6,817 veterans and 5,216 chronically homeless individuals into permanent supportive housing since 2012. • An additional 4,084 individuals haven placed into homes through Rapid Rehousing since that program started in January 2015. Over the past three years: • SEARCH served 11,602 clients across all programs, of whom 5,364 received more extensive case management services. • Our Outreach teams assisted 3,581 individuals living on the streets. • We helped 1,042 individuals and families move into homes of their own. • Our House of Tiny Treasures preschool served a total of 381 children and their families. SEARCH’s focus for the near future will be on reducing and ultimately eliminating homelessness through skilled case management that is tightly coordinated with the larger community action plan. SEARCH’s strategic focus for the coming years is to: • Be a leader and subject matter expert; • Facilitate the community system’s ending homelessness; and • Break the cycle of homelessness. At SEARCH, we believe that everyone deserves a place to call home. As SEARCH celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, we remain committed to our vision of a day when no one must sleep on the streets.

External Reviews


National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) - 5 Year Accreditation 2015

Affiliations & Memberships

Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County, Inc. 2005

United Way Member Agency 1999

H-E-B Excellence in Education Award in Early Childhood for SEARCH's House of Tiny Treasures 2019



SEARCH Homeless Services

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Board Leadership Practices

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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?