City of Denton continues to avoid homelessness as city grows

City of Denton continues to avoid homelessness as city grows

City of Denton continues to avoid homelessness as city grows
December 04
17:54 2017

As the weather gets colder and homes become festive, homeless shelters in Denton continue to fill up.

On the Jan. 26 Point-in-Time homelessness count, which counts the number of homeless people per year for Denton County, 67 out of 176 people counted were homeless in the city of Denton. The highest reason for homelessness was due to unemployment, at 17.9 percent.

The homeless shelters around town are located primarily off of Woodrow Lane and McKinney Street and remain open longer with more beds available as the weather gets colder, or hotter.

Human Services Coordinator for the city of Denton Dani Shaw said some homeless encampments are a danger to the health of the people who live in them and the environment.

“The city did clean up an encampment that existed off of Loop 288 and McKinney Street,” Shaw said. “There were chemicals, people were lighting fires, there was a significant amount of refuge and other things that made it really a health and safety hazard for the people staying there.”

Shelters in Denton, such as the Salvation Army and Monsignor King Outreach Center, are constantly overflowing, often requiring to turn people away when at capacity.

Monsignor King Outreach Center is open on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays,  serves dinner on Tuesday nights and recently added a few more beds.

Lieutenant Linda Choi of the Denton Salvation Army said the annual Red Kettle Campaign money helps raise funds for the shelter and is always looking for volunteers to help.

“We are helping them find a house, refer them to our agencies and housing programs,” Choi said. “Right now we have an extended program for 30 days and we have our emergency shelter program for 30 days.”

The 30-day program is a larger step than the five-day program, which offers those staying there a life skills class, a Bible study and Drug Addicts Anonymous (DAA) meetings to name a few.

“Our caseworker helps them to get a job and refers them to Giving Hope for the Rapid Housing Program in order them to have a house through the case management,” Choi said.

The homeless population is tracked by a street outreach team, who goes out and leads a group of people in the fire department, EMS and other nonprofits who help people struggling or with mental health issues.

Another group goes out to where it is known people are staying and visit with them. Their goal is to make relationships with people and try to refer them to existing services to get them off the street.

“Our main priority is to get them to a shelter, and the ultimate priority is to get them permanent housing,” Shaw said. “There are places in which people stay but it is pretty transient. There is a lot of movement.”

The city of Denton is continuously growing and although the population is getting larger, the homeless population is staying consistent.

“Our numbers stay relatively consistent though, which I think means we are managing the situation,” Shaw said. “We have several goals we are trying to achieve, obviously we are trying to reduce the number of homeless and reduce the amount of time someone is homeless.”

Featured Image: Parks in Denton are a common place for the homeless to stay. Recently, a large homeless encampment in Pebblebrook Park was removed by the city of Denton. Jacob Ostermann

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Julia Falcon

Julia Falcon

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2 Comments

  1. Concerned citizen
    Concerned citizen December 06, 01:50

    What abt people who live in cars. Can a parking lot be arranged for night parking, with portapotties? I think California has some provisions like this in some locales. Not all homeless are on the street. Some have no way to shower or keep clean. Parks have no water, toilet facilities for those who need basic toilet/shower facilities. Many do work but cannot pay rent. There is no middle ground. These displaced persons need accommodating.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Concerned Mother
    Concerned Mother December 07, 15:47

    Thank you for mentioning this. My son is a former student of UNT and was unable to find affordable housing. He also lived out of his car and had a full time job. Rent is outrageous there in Denton.

    Reply to this comment

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