Receives close to $124,000 to fund supportive services to improve coordination of homeless resources.
United Way of Denton County (UWDC), in partnership with its collaborative initiative the Denton County Homelessness Leadership Team, was recently awarded a first-time grant of $123,926 to support the local fight against homelessness. The grant will help improve coordination of homeless services and communication between providers in Denton County, as well as support continued expansion of the Coordinated Entry System to better serve people experiencing homelessness throughout the community.
Awarded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development through the Texas Balance of State Continuum of Care, this grant is the first of its kind to be awarded in Denton County. The Texas Balance of State Continuum of Care is a group “made up of all service providers, advocates, local government officials, and citizens who work to eliminate homelessness in 215 of Texas’ 254 counties.” (Texas Homeless Network) Denton County is the first community in Texas to receive this type of funding, which is separate from the Emergency Solutions Grant received by local nonprofits in collaboration with the City of Denton.
“This grant award demonstrates our ability to facilitate high-level collaboration and bring critically needed funding into our community,” said United Way of Denton County President and CEO Gary Henderson. “Achievements like this simply cannot happen when working in isolation. Congratulations to every organization represented on the Denton County Homelessness Leadership Team; this is a win for our neighbors who are desperately in need of our help!”
Since October of 2016, UWDC and the Denton County Homelessness Leadership Team have facilitated the development, implementation, and continuous planning of a Coordinated Entry System (CES) in use by a county-wide network of shelters and service providers. Data from CES launched the Homelessness Data Dashboard which provides an online, up-to-date overview of families, individuals, and students across Denton County experiencing homelessness.
Community partners identified a lack of accessible and affordable housing and limited case management capacity as barriers to getting and keeping people housed. Housing providers are primarily located in Denton and Lewisville, the two largest cities within the county, limiting the community’s ability to reach populations in rural areas. The grant from HUD will support the expansion of the CES throughout the county and the efficient placement of households identified through CE into permanent housing by underwriting two staff positions at UWDC: a Coordinated Entry Intake Specialist and a Homeless Housing Navigator.
The Coordinated Entry Intake Specialist’s role is to increase access to CE in rural parts of the county and for those with barriers to access. This position supports over 14 agencies in CE and increases the capacity of the county to meet the needs of households experiencing homelessness via mobile and tele-assessments.
A dedicated Homeless Housing Navigator centralizes communication between landlords and housing service agencies to increase access to safe and affordable housing for Denton County households in crisis. This mitigates risks for landlords renting to households with blemishes on their rental histories and/or criminal records.
“These funds power informed people-centric solutions to meet complex needs,” added Courtney Cross, United Way of Denton County Director of Homelessness Initiatives and author of the grant proposal.
United Way of Denton County (UWDC) serves as facilitator for the Denton County Homelessness Leadership Team (DCHLT), a collective impact initiative to ensure that homelessness is prevented when possible, and when it is not that it is a rare, brief, and nonrecurring experience. The DCHLT is a 23-member appointed body of stakeholders from multiple sectors tasked with developing and implementing a strategic vision for increasing access to housing for all Denton County residents. For more information, visit www.unitedwaydenton.org/homelessness.