Thirty people representing 20 different agencies gathered at United Way of Denton County to share resources and discuss alarming trends facing local senior populations.
Denton County and United Way of Denton County hosted a listening session in July with agencies serving Denton County seniors today designed to begin cross-collaboration and knowledge of available services to identify gaps and better identify and serve seniors in crisis.
Nonprofits, municipalities, and churches from Carrollton, Roanoke, Lewisville, Denton, and beyond shared the programs and services offered to seniors, as well as the trends and needs they are seeing within their agencies.
“It’s exciting to know that so many people are interested in addressing the growing needs of seniors across Denton County,” commented Dawn Cobb, Denton County Director of Community Relations, as she welcomed the group.
According to United Way of Denton County’s Community Needs Assessment, 42% of seniors over 65 live below the survival threshold in Denton County.
Among the list of challenges faced by Denton County’s seniors echoed by attendees: extreme rent increases for a population on a fixed income, social isolation, transportation, loss of family support, predatory scams, technology gaps, payday loans, not knowing what resources are available to assist them, and the hesitation to ask for help until it’s too late.
Susan Frank of Hearts for Homes shared that many of their clients have “to decide between paying for rent, food, or medicine, often opting to skip on the medicine.”
The Senior Rental Gap program funded by the City of Lewisville and implemented by United Way of Denton County and CCA has tracked an average annual income of senior applicants of $23,000 with an average monthly rent increase of $130. Most of the applicants are in their 80s and 11% are employed.
“They are 80 (years old) and above and having to re-enter the workforce,” commented Olivia Mata-Williams, Director of Education, Housing & Workforce Initiatives at United Way of Denton County.
Organizations in attendance included: SOS International, SPAN/Meals on Wheels of Denton County, Metrocrest Services, Denton County Veteran Service Office, Denton Affordable Housing, Community Services, Inc., Northview Baptist Church, Lewisville Heart of the City, City of Lewisville, Hearts for Homes, Giving Grace, Goodwill Job Resource Center, Denton Housing Authority, Denton Community Food Center, Serve Denton, DCTA, Denton Bible Church, Christian Community Action (CCA), United Way of Denton County, and Denton County.
“The meeting today highlighted the need for more opportunities for program staff across agencies to hear and learn about other services available,” said Gary Henderson, President & CEO at United Way of Denton County. “This type of cross-knowledge and collaboration helps all of us better serve our neighbors in crisis.”