First Footing community center near completion, guests get first look at refurbished facility
December 28, 2023
NB Housing Partners’ First Footing program is near completion of a years-long journey to provide a permanent community space to serve New Braunfels residents experiencing homelessness.
The organization hosted a recent open house to let guests get a first look at the new facility, a renovated former fire station at Loop 337 in New Braunfels that will act as a crisis housing and outreach center containing a comprehensive intake process connecting individuals to community resources and housing opportunities.
Officials with NB Housing Partners said the 1970s-era building requires some installations, such as a fire suppression system, before participants can occupy the facility. Still, they remain hopeful for a January move-in date.
“Anytime there is a change, even if it’s something that you are looking forward to, it still has its own unexpected things and adjustments,” said Kellie Stallings, executive director of NB Housing Partners. “Our team and our participants know that and are starting to plan ahead for that. We’ve been asking participants what they want to see and what they think are reasonable expectations for participants who seek help on their journey toward housing. They’ve been giving us some good ideas of things they think they should be responsible for and ways we can help them more effectively.”
In early 2023, NB Housing Partners entered a 25-year agreement with the City of New Braunfels to lease the former fire station. The site will provide case management, basic needs, meals, medical care, behavioral healthcare, budgeting, employment/job assistance, benefit application assistance, housing navigation and planning, and congregate crisis housing (shelter).
First Footing staffers develop a housing plan with each participant. Housing navigation and housing startup costs are provided in partnership with the Crisis Center of Comal County. Hill Country Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Centers will offer mental health services, counseling and life skills assistance.
Since its establishment in February 2021, the First Footing program has been leasing local motel space to provide services to community members at risk for or experiencing homelessness. The program serves an average of about 30 individuals daily. The demand increases to nearly 50 individuals on cold weather nights.
The Salvation Army of New Braunfels will provide meals at the new facility with additional support from New Braunfels Church of Christ, Elks Lodge, New Braunfels Food Bank, SOS Food Bank and Peace Lutheran Church.
The facility’s medical exam room will be utilized for wellness checkups and healthcare visits. The goals are to improve preventive healthcare, address medical needs that accompany prolonged exposure to weather elements, detect and address acute or chronic health issues and reduce the overuse of emergency healthcare services.
Healthcare is provided weekly through Acadia Medical Mission, with offsite appointments offered through Volunteers in Medicine, America’s Best Eyecare and local dentistry practices.
The congregate sleeping space will provide rest for about 40 individuals at a time, with more served to preserve life safety when the outdoor temperature drops to 45 degrees or below.
An onsite skilled daytime and overnight team is alert and ready to provide a listening ear and offer suggestions to improve sleep for participants as needed.
The team also welcomes those returning from work. Participants show proof of their work times before entering the building after 10 p.m.
The facility also includes a bathroom/shower area, a television and computer room and a laundry room.
Although NB Housing Partners has established partnerships with nonprofits, businesses, faith leaders and housing developers, the organization also needs the public’s help.
The program urgently seeks donations of personal care items, such as brushes and combs, sleep masks, shower scrunchies, bath towels, deodorant and shower shoes.
Food items, such as coffee, dry cereal, and snack items, are welcome, as well as cleaning and household supplies, toilet paper, and transportation items, such as adult skateboards, adult bicycles, and ride-sharing gift cards.
Program participants also welcome H-E-B, McDonald’s, Walmart and Walgreens gift cards. For a complete list, click here.
Donors can leave items at the McKenna Events Center at 801 W. San Antonio St.
Tax-deductible donations can be made to NB Housing Partners and mailed or dropped off at 801 W. San Antonio Street, New Braunfels, TX 78130. Individuals can volunteer for the program through the Serve Spot website at servespot.org. For additional information regarding donations or the program, email email@example.com or call 830-272-5020 ext 6.