Texarkana awarded state and federal funds to fight homelessness


The City of Texarkana, Texas has been awarded $600,000 in homelessness assistance funding as part of a grant competition under the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Program from the U.S. Department of Housing Urban Development.

The strong partnerships within the Texarkana Homeless Coalition helped make the Doorways Emergency Solutions Grant program competitive with communities across the state of Texas, according to Texarkana, Texas Grants Developer Adra Hallford.

“We are really proud to receive the highest amount awarded under the ESG program this year,” said Hallford.

The City of Texarkana, Texas applied for ESG funds with homeless services providers Texarkana Friendship Center, Inc., East Texas Veterans Resources and Randy Sams’ Outreach Shelter as members of the Texarkana Homeless Coalition Doorways Home program.

The goal of the program is to provide services necessary to help persons at-risk of homelessness or homeless quickly regain stability in permanent housing.

“Funding from this program will help Texarkana provide emergency shelter for homeless persons as well as outreach and homelessness prevention for those at greatest risk of homelessness,” said Hallford.

The funds will also be used to provide needed shelter renovations at Randy Sams’ Outreach Shelter. Additional renovations at the Texarkana Bowie County Family Health Center will enable case managers from several non-profits to provide coordinated access serving homeless and at-risk of homelessness persons and families. The facility will still house the Health Department, but will transition into a one-stop-shop that will house multiple social service agencies.

Executive Director of Randy Sams’ Outreach Shelter and Texarkana Homeless Coalition Homeless Count Committee Chair, Jennifer Laurent, says that these funds will assist Doorways Coalition partners to quickly and efficiently provide services that can prevent or end episodes of homelessness.

“Despite the stigma still attached to homelessness,” said Laurent, “these are our friends, neighbors, co-workers, family members, and even veterans.”

Most families are no more than a few paychecks away from not having the resources to provide shelter for themselves or their families. A job crisis or a health event can quickly deplete household resources. Three hundred or more men, women, and children are homeless on any given night in Texarkana.

“This funding is paramount to our being able to provide the expanded services and coordinated access needed in our community,” Laurent said. “The expanded ability to serve, paired with the services offered from partner agencies, will make all the difference for so many seeking assistance. This funding will mean the difference between homelessness and remaining housed, finding shelter and obtaining housing for some. This funding will truly make a world of difference in our community.”

Randall Webster, Director of East Texas Veterans Resources and Chair of both Public Relations and Planning with the Texarkana Homeless Coalition, recognizes the importance of this funding for former military members.

“Our veterans have served us all. Now we have the opportunity to reach out to these soldiers and help them fight for their own futures.” Webster said.

Pastor Bryan Bixler, Executive Director of the Texarkana Friendship Center and Vice President of the Texarkana Homeless Coalition, emphasizes the importance of a coordinated community response to homelessness in Texarkana.

“At the national level, great emphasis is being given to collaboration. Locally, we have been working for many years to build partnerships and to identify weaknesses in our systematic approach as a community in providing a path back to self-sufficiency,” Bixler said. “Homelessness is too complex, and those currently without basic needs met are too valuable, for our service providers to not do everything possible to work together. “

“This grant is another key piece of the efforts of the Homeless Coalition to work toward these ends,” said Bixler. “Although there are only a few agencies named as lead partners, this initiative would not be possible without countless other individuals and organizations in our community. We are thankful, and ask for the community at large to join us in our commitment to end homelessness.”

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