NB Housing Partners’ First Footing program serves more than 400 individuals in its first 22 months of operation
May 30, 2023
NB Housing Partners’ First Footing program has served 409 unduplicated individuals between the start of operations in February 2021 and November 2022. Additionally, the program has provided 19,599 nights of shelter during that time. Program staffers also diverted 150 individuals were diverted to other resources.
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.
Of those sheltered, 74% have lived in the community for at least six months. The average length of time lived in the community for all individuals sheltered was 13.21 years, with a median of 3.5 years.
In addition to providing a safe place to stay and 24-hour staff coverage, the program offers support services such as identification document recovery, establishing employment and reestablishing benefit income such as retirement, disability, or food assistance, which significantly increases the likelihood of individuals establishing long-term housing. The program also partners with Acacia Medical Mission for physical healthcare services and Hill Country MHDD for behavioral health services.
The program has served individuals representing a cross-section of the community. Currently, 82% of those served are male, while 18% are female; most females are referred to other community resources. While most individuals served are ages 20-59, 4% were under age 20, and 11% were over 60. Some individuals are parents or even grandparents, and some are veterans.
There are many factors that lead to someone experiencing homelessness, including social and economic reasons, notably a rise in housing costs with a lack of an adequate supply of affordable housing options or low wages that result in a housing cost burden for individuals or families. These community reasons are further complicated by individual factors, such as disease and disabilities, past trauma, poor credit history or financial debt, grief, domestic violence, mental health issues, or substance use. The negative stigma associated with homelessness also adds to the hesitancy to seek help.
“What people experiencing homelessness all have in common is they are struggling with their current circumstances and need a hand up, not a handout,” said Kellie Stallings, executive director of NB Housing Partners. “We want to see the positive outcomes continue to grow. We know that crisis housing and support services are only one part of the solution and that long-term housing is the key ‑‑ we are committed to both.”
First Footing staffers found that 57 individuals were already employed at intake, and 116 gained employment after receiving shelter. The program connected 85 people to at least one source of benefit income, such as retirement, disability or food assistance programs, such as SNAP.
The program assisted with attaining 139 identification documents needed for individuals to gain employment or housing and connected 120 people to housing or long-term support providing housing, such as family, friends or treatment.
The program focuses primarily on serving single men and couples, referring youth to Connections Individual and Family Services, and, whenever possible, directing single women and families to the Crisis Center of Comal County and Family Promise of Greater New Braunfels.
NB Housing Partners will soon enter the next phase of the First Footing program after entering into a 25-year agreement with the City of New Braunfels to lease the former fire station at 4120 Loop 337 as a permanent facility.
Plans call for NB Housing Partners to invest significant funds in building and property improvements at the site to provide a crisis housing and outreach center, including a comprehensive intake process that helps connect individuals to community resources and housing opportunities, case management, basic needs, meals, medical care, behavioral healthcare, budgeting, employment/job assistance, benefit application assistance, housing navigation and planning, congregate crisis housing (shelter) and transitional housing rooms.
The facility will also serve as a cold-weather shelter room to protect the safety of individuals during extreme weather conditions. The agency is also partnering with Salvation Army for the purchase of land to expand homelessness prevention support and faith-based activities, as well as to add transitional housing for individuals or families that are experiencing housing insecurity and need additional time and support to sustain housing at market-value rental costs.
“The goal is to expand crisis housing and support services for individuals who need assistance moving from homelessness to housing stability, as well as to add to the community’s current capacity of affordable housing options,” Stallings said.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 830-606-9526.