Tour of living space

Volunteer Brooke Sailer gives a tour of a living space during an open house Tuesday at the Wheeler House in Denton. Serve Denton and Grace Like Rain are partnering to open the short-term shelter at the Wheeler House.

There are a few extra beds in the Wheeler House these days, and they’ll soon be filled by families looking for a helping hand.

A partnership between Serve Denton and Grace Like Rain has turned a space previously reserved for a health clinic into short-term housing for single mothers and their children.

The clinic, operated by Health Services of North Texas, has moved as part of a large construction plan that is currently underway.

The Wheeler House provides temporary housing to single mothers and their children who are going through a housing crisis.

Michelle Conner is the founder of Grace Like Rain, a nonprofit that serves families with young children who are facing homelessness. She said a housing crisis can take many forms — it could be brought on by the loss of a job, a medical emergency or some other factor leading to an eviction.

Playroom

Pat Smith, Serve Denton founder and board member, gives a tour of the children’s play area during an open house Tuesday at the Wheeler House, a short-term shelter.

“A lot of our families are sleeping in their cars because of an eviction,” Conner said.

Space for three to four families was publicly unveiled during a Tuesday open house.

The Wheeler House first opened its doors about three years ago. With the addition of Grace Like Rain, it has become a bit convoluted concerning oversight.

Serve Denton owns the physical space, which has two groups, Giving Hope Inc. and Grace Like Rain, operating programs under one roof. Both nonprofits rent space, at reduced rates, from Serve Denton. Carlie Kuban with Serve Denton said Grace Like Rain will pay about $1,000 in rent and utilities to Serve Denton each month.

With weekly hotel costs for a family projected between $280 and $320, Grace Like Rain is able to house triple the families for less money. Additionally, the Wheeler House is presumably a safer and more supportive environment, Conner said.

Strictly speaking, the Wheeler House is not its own entity, but the product of three groups and countless volunteers, donors and staff.

On the ground, none of that is particularly visible. One hallway runs from front door to backyard. Set off from the hallway are rooms for mothers and children, a communal kitchen, a multipurpose room, a playroom and more.

Giving Hope will continue to operate its temporary housing program, which offers its services for stays of three to six months. Applicants have a longer vetting process to get a spot in that program than they will for the Grace Like Rain addition; the hope is that families will be able to apply and get a spot within 24 hours.

“We want to get you in here,” Conner said. “We want to get you somewhere safe and have that time to process.”

Outdoor area

Guests enjoy the outdoor area during an open house Tuesday at the Wheeler House.

She said it’s entirely possible for families nearing the end of their time with Grace Like Rain to move into the transitional housing program with Giving Hope.

Brooke Sailer, a volunteer with Grace Like Rain, worked to decorate the new housing section.

“I’m a home decor Instagrammer,” Sailer said.

She’s also written two books about design, organization and the notion of “home.”

“So I know a little something about home,” Sailer said.

Sailer worked to make the best use of space by installing foldaway tables in a kitchen area to clear up a walkway when not in use, installing additional shelving and more.

“I do the walls, Brooke does magic,” said Pat Smith, founder and current board member with Serve Denton.

Conner said her organization already has two families looking to live at the Wheeler House as soon as possible, which could be any day now.

MARSHALL REID can be reached at 940-566-6862 and via Twitter at @MarshallKReid.

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