The City of Denton has issued a challenge to United Way of Denton County and the Denton County community as part of the continuing effort to make homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring with a $40,000 matching grant to the Denton County Homelessness Barriers Fund.
Launched in 2018 by the Denton County Homelessness Leadership Team with direction from United Way of Denton County, the Barriers Fund is an innovative, collaborative fund of last resort that strengthens nonprofits working with families and individuals across Denton County to promote housing stability and self-sufficiency.
Local nonprofit agencies working to alleviate homelessness can submit applications on behalf of clients experiencing homelessness or on the brink of crisis. Funds can be used for expenses like fixing a car tire or covering a housing application fee, security deposit, and first month’s rent. To date, just $24,735 in funds have averted homelessness for 72 households in Denton County.
Agencies like Salvation Army Denton, Salvation Army Lewisville, Giving Hope, Our Daily Bread, Denton County Friends of the Family, and Grace Like Rain may apply for Barriers Fund funding through United Way of Denton County after all other existing federal, state, and local resources have been exhausted. But the Barriers Fund isn’t always an option.
“Unfortunately, the Fund has been forced to close four times due to lack of funding, and then, agencies have to turn away people in need,” said Courtney Cross, Director of Mental Health and Housing Initiatives for United Way of Denton County. “That’s why this funding provided by the City of Denton and the public is so critical.”
Emergency Solutions Grant funding from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs for the Denton County community dropped from $600,000 in 2018 to $150,000 in 2019, making the need for alternative resources to support families in crisis that much more significant. In a year, approximately 1,200 people experience homelessness in Denton County, with thousands more living paycheck to paycheck — one unexpected expense away from crisis.
“The data shows the best way to help homelessness is to prevent it, and the Barriers Fund is an effective tool to keep at-risk persons from experiencing homelessness,” said Denton Mayor Chris Watts. “We’re not just working to solve a problem; we’re working to help people.”
The City of Denton presented their funds as a challenge grant to encourage the public to join the effort to keep families housed with a donation that will be matched dollar for dollar up to $40,000. Donations can be made at www.UnitedWayDenton.org/barriers-fund. To date, $14,525 has been donated towards the match, 36% to the goal.
Solving complex problems like homelessness and housing insecurity requires a diverse set of solutions. To learn more about the collaborative work being done and to make a donation to the Denton County Homelessness Barriers Fund, visit www.UnitedWayDenton.org/homelessness.