Denton and UNT look to help city’s homeless population

Paul Wedding / Staff Writer

The number of homeless people in Denton has been steadily rising for several years now and many in Denton want to help address the growing problem.

While the Denton County Homeless Coalition’s point-in-time report listed just over 300 people as homeless, Our Daily Bread, a community soup kitchen in Denton, has 985 guests categorized as homeless.

“Poverty grows with the population,” Our Daily Bread executive director Millie Bell said. “We have found that when there is a heavy population increase, there is an increase in poverty as well.”

One of the major contributing factors to the rise in homelessness is unemployment. According to the point-in-time reports, this reason for homelessness went up from 20 percent to 63 percent between 2009 and 2011. There was also an increase in inability to pay rent or mortgage from 15 percent to 40 percent. The Denton County Homeless Coalition has said the data for the 2015 report is still being tabulated.

UNT has had many problems with a growth in homeless students as well and is looking for solutions to help students who can’t afford basic necessities. Some of the steps UNT has taken including holding a food pantry in the Dean of Students office and offering references to housing assistance and food, clothing and rental assistance.

Associate Dean of Students Rodney Mitchell is currently putting together a task force in order to assist students in need.

“We want to make sure that there are services available that can support students and educate the campus community,” he said.

Mitchell said that these students’ situations may not match what many consider homeless. They may be staying at a friend’s place or sleeping in their cars, but these situations could change at any time.

Myles Wood, the assistant program coordinator at Our Daily Bread, was homeless before the kitchen helped get him back on his feet. He cited mental health issues as well as inability to pay for tuition as the reasons for his situation. He said the cost of college and the debt that it brings are large contributing factors toward homelessness.

Art junior Jed Beck has known many students who are struggling to pay for housing and have had to resort to sleeping in the library before.

“For some art students, it’s like you’re paying for housing or you’re paying for art supplies,” he said. “UNT gives a lot of attention to a lot of its programs. Financial aid is not one of them. It’s not necessarily bad, it’s just not on the top of their list.”

There are many local shelters and soup kitchens that are not only providing food and shelter for these people, but also providing them the resources to help them back onto their feet. Our Daily Bread offers showers, laundry, and free use of computers and telephones for homeless and transients to apply for jobs.

Mary Wilson, one of the many homeless individuals in Denton, is currently living in a yellow tent off of Bonnie Brae and University Drive with her dog, Sprocket, and cat, Itsy. She has been living in Denton since 2004. She said after she lost her job as a pet groomer in Dallas, she lost the will to keep looking for employment and pay for her apartment.

“I’ve paid deposits pretty much all my life,” she said. “I can only talk myself into giving everything that I make to someone so many times.”

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3 Comments

  1. John Book
    December 31, 09:18 Reply
    So Mary Wilson lost her job in Dallas and then came to Denton to be homeless because she "lost the will" to get another job. And we should feel sorry for her, why? The majority of the homeless in Denton want to be homeless because they're too lazy to gets jobs -- and we're talking perfectly able-bodied individuals. Rather than working or looking for work, they spend their days at the public libraries on the Internet computers playing video games and being on Facebook And YouTube. So I feel zero sympathy for them. This is Denton, not Manhattan or San Francisco -- rents are not that high.
    • Raven
      January 20, 13:58 Reply
      WELL JOHN- You must not make min.wages or you'd know that ppl. working 40 hours a wk. only scrape in approx. $1000 a month or so after taxes and health ins. etc. Now deduct rent. BTW the avg. apt. rental in Denton was $932 mo. as of Dec. 2016... So $1000 - $932= $68. Now how much does food & water cost ? More than $10 a week? Def. but 40 bucks will be all you have so eat ramen, right? $68- $40= $28 minus $25 /mo. for a basic metro.phone. Who can pay the electric bill with the $3 left after that? Forget having a car. Obviously. Get a roomie right? Must ! Now with approx. $450 more- Pay the ele. bill , EAT, they can buy shampoo now too & maybe upgrade the phone plan to include internet. They need to save for a car so they can't buy clothes or go do anything fun, right? They aren't Sub-human. And you have no idea how hard it is to be homeless. NONE of the homeless people I've ever met were "lazy". A third of the homeless people still work full time jobs. And fyi- the library requires you to have -proof- of your home address to get a card & use their computers. So maybe the ppl you're talking about at the libraries all day are actually students. Ya think? Try to remember A lot of ppl use backpacks, dear. Not just homeless ppl. But you can keep your high & mighty, presumptuous, misinformed "no sympathy" opinion Johnny boy. Mary never asked you for sh*t nor would she want you to "feel sorry" for her... ever. And yes, she works- quite possibly harder than you do. I happen to know her and she's the type who would offer her last dollar to help someone in need. She's come a long way since she was in that tent , partly because (thank God) there are still people out there who DON'T THINK like you do. Good citizens of Denton have encouraged her. Believed in her. Reached out to her. And she is thriving now. She even spoke at a Tony Robbins event. I predict she will be a published author before long as well. So you see John, homeless people deserve love too. Love is the answer.
  2. Ron
    April 26, 17:56 Reply
    Some are just too comfy with handouts some are just broken with no esteem some just play the homeless role ... I myself went from being never homeless but on drugs alcohol and beyond reckless and felonies and picked my worthless ass up and built a life a relationship with an amazing woman and our own business so in saying that i say anyone can do anything if they get sick of being a nothing in life

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