Houston: Homeless Face Uncertain Future In Wake of Super Bowl

The previous NFL season gave Houston’s homeless a taste of what they can expect this season. With the Super Bowl just around the corner, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee encouraged the homeless population of the city to disappear, at least for the duration of the sporting event. It was the sort of thing that didn’t really sour the betting lines.

Though, some people took offense with the idea of sending the homeless population packing even as the welcome wagon was rolled out for the NFL fans that descended on the city that summer.

The next Super Bowl is right around the corner. A short while ago, a large encampment of homeless people was cleared, and the homeless believe that the action was driven by the advent of the Super Bowl. Of course, Houston has done little to encourage or deny these rumors, choosing to leave people guessing about its Super Bowl-cleansing intentions. 

By Tuesday morning, the homeless folk living beneath an overpass in a midtown neighborhood had vacated; this was after Houston police ordered them to find another place to stay. They targeted these particular homeless individuals because the area beneath the overpass is so popular with most destitute persons in the city.

It isn’t even that hospitable, to begin with; however, it has also become renowned for all the abusers of dangerous synthetic drugs that frequent it. One wonders where the homeless men and women that vacated the overpass went, and whether their departure won’t elicit some unexpected consequences. 

You could tell that the Police (and the Texas Department of Transportation) were very serious about keeping the overpass clear of the destitute; once the homeless vacated the area, a fence was quickly erected around the lot.

Even more curious was the way the police carried out this operation, ordering the homeless to leave without first communicating their intentions to local homeless outreach programs or even the Houston Mayor’s office. 

As such, no one really knows where all the homeless people went, and that might present a problem down the line. Most homeless people you speak to know exactly what is driving the police’s activities as of late.

They know that the city is trying to beautify itself for the Super Bowl, and a horde of dirty and homeless people probably doesn’t bode well for the image the city wants to portray. 

Houston, as would be expected, denied rumors that their activities were driven by the Super Bowl. The Department of Transportation said that their actions were driven by their concern for drivers and pedestrian. The department had to speak out because it was the one driving the sweep.

Supposedly, many a pedestrian had reported feeling unsafe while crossing the ramp of the overpass. Fencing the area under the freeway off was supposed to keep pedestrians safe as they crossed the ramp.

It has become the norm for Cities to clamp down on the homeless because of the Super Bowl. Dallas strengthened ordinances against panhandling in 2011 when they were supposed to host the Super Bowl. And even then, the Mayor worked hard to separate the new changes to rules and regulations from the Super Bowl and the city’s efforts to portray a positive image.

Houston’s homeless have a good reason to fear, especially as the Super Bowl draws closer. 

  • Julie Sanders