Denton City Council

Denton City Council

City leaders could allocate more than $600,000 towards homelessness initiatives next year, most of which would help the Monsignor King Outreach Center open every night.

Denton City Council members said they would consider the allocation for the 2019-20 budget year. City Manager Todd Hileman said the allocation would be at the top of his supplemental requests for the coming year.

Currently, the Monsignor Center, a local nonprofit, is run by volunteers and is open three nights per week and during inclement weather. They raised nearly $450,000 to remodel the former city animal shelter to convert the building, including installing restrooms, showers and a catering kitchen. The shelter can accommodate up to 92 people each night.

Monsignor Center President Roy Metzler told council members the group had not contemplated being more than a volunteer group before now.

“We focused on doing what we do well,” Metzler said.

The nonprofit raises its annual budget of $168,716 from community donations and grants. To open every night, the Monsignor Center would need to hire professional staff, specifically case managers. Those case managers would help the people who come in the front door of Monsignor Center find and sustain permanent housing. And that means the annual budget would increase to about $538,716.

Monsignor Center would continue to raise money as before, but it needs an additional $370,000 in annual support to provide the services. In addition, about $80,000 of additional improvements are needed, including some electrical wiring for the HVAC system, a portable building for office space and storage lockers to be installed under beds.

Hileman said he hoped the increase in services at Monsignor Center would reduce the number of encampments around the city. He told council members the city staff has also begun talks with the county about supporting the project.

The recommendation to expand services at Monsignor Center came from a countywide work group, which also recommended separate allocations to other locally proven initiatives that prevent homelessness or help people get into permanent housing faster.

Council member Paul Meltzer said he appreciated the systematic way the work group came about its recommendations. However, the expansion of hours at Monsignor Center triggered concerns from county officials. The building is next door to the county’s juvenile detention center.

Denton County Court-at-Law Judge Kimberly McCary supervises the facility and presides over the juvenile court. She told council members that when the Monsignor Center opened at its current location on Woodrow Lane, county officials understood it to be a short-term, emergency facility.

Although nothing has happened to the youth who come and go from the building, McCary said the number of incidents at Monsignor Center concerned her along, with the number of people walking in the area.

“[The center] needs to buy property elsewhere,” McCary said.

Metzler said a DCTA bus stop at the front of Monsignor Center would solve most of the county’s concerns.

DCTA Route 2 travels Woodrow Lane from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. The nearest stop is about a quarter-mile away, on Morse Street at Woodrow.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.

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