Next Step Program in Comal County awarded grant funding to offer multifaceted resources for those experiencing homelessness

The Crisis Center of Comal County, First Footing shelter and MHDD have joined together to support those experiencing homelessness in Comal County. (Lauren Canterberry/Community Impact Newspaper)
The Crisis Center of Comal County, First Footing shelter and MHDD have joined together to support those experiencing homelessness in Comal County. (Lauren Canterberry/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Crisis Center of Comal County, First Footing shelter and MHDD have joined together to support those experiencing homelessness in Comal County. (Lauren Canterberry/Community Impact Newspaper)

In September, a new partnership between three nonprofit organizations in Comal County received grant funding through Texas Health and Human Services Commission that will be used to provide housing and mental health services for individuals experiencing homelessness.

The partnership, called the Next Step Program, brings together the Crisis Center of Comal County, First Footing of NB Housing Partners, and the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Center, or MHDD.

Mic Biesboer, the community liaison for the program, said the grant was awarded through the Texas HHSC Healthy Community Collaborative effort, which aims to bring organizations and individuals together to fight homelessness and mental illness.

The program was awarded approximately $1.7 million annually for the next seven years, Biesboer said. The group will be required to reapply periodically and could receive additional funding in the coming years.

“[The grant] just completely increases the resources we have to be able to actually address real homelessness and housing instability in our county,” he said. “With these efforts, we're going to be able to resource and help folks and reintegrate them back into healthy community.”


Biesboer said the goal of the program is to bring the shelter and housing services of CCCC and First Footing together with mental health services provided by MHDD. Funding from the grant has opened more staffing opportunities for licensed counselors and case managers.

For many experiencing homelessness, rehousing is just the first step to reintegrating into the community, and mental health services and counseling are often integral to finding stability, Biesboer said.

Previously, the collaborative focused grant funding on large metropolitan areas throughout the state but recently turned its attention to more rural communities.

By working with organizations outside of major cities, the collaborative hopes to enable local groups to more effectively serve and support those experiencing homelessness in their own communities, Biesboer said.

According to a 2019 report completed by Marbut Consulting for the Homeless Coalition, 50% of those experiencing homelessness locally have lived in the area for an average of 15 years. Approximately 64% of individuals have family members living in Comal or Guadalupe counties.

“These are our neighbors. These are people that you might have went to school with or you might have played sports with,” Biesboer said.

Another key goal of the program is to gather data about the needs facing the community as it relates to homelessness so that organizations and groups gain a better understanding of the services that are most needed, said Ellie Truan, shelter director for the CCCC.

Currently, there is not enough data available for Comal County to determine the demand for services such as public transportation, rehabilitation programs and affordable housing, Truan said.

“It is really great to be able to work closer with MHDD and to work with First Footing, but also to be able to gather all that data of what our community needs to better serve these individuals so that we're not having to move them to San Antonio or Austin or surrounding areas,” she said.

Ultimately, Truan and Biesboer hope the collaboration will extend to include other local nonprofits, church groups and support organizations.

“Our goal is to create a program where we offer people the services [people] need to to be reintegrated into the community,” Biesboer said. “These are sad stories, but we now have an opportunity to help rewrite their stories.”
By Lauren Canterberry

Reporter, New Braunfels

Lauren joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in October 2019. After graduating with a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, Lauren was a freelance journalist and worked as a college English teacher in China. At CI, Lauren covers education, local government, transportation, business, real estate development and nonprofits in New Braunfels.



MOST RECENT

New Braunfels Utilities is unrolling several ways to help customers navigate complications from the last winter storm and prepare for the possibility of another. (Community Impact Newspaper Staff)
NBU outlines preparation for another severe winter storm

The utility outlined several initiatives for better readiness.

Abby Popp is a chiropractor at The Wellness Way in New Braunfels. (Courtesy The Wellness Way)
The Wellness Way now open in New Braunfels

The new clinic offers comprehensive testing and personalized treatment plans.

Tomball City Council approved a development agreement with Lovett Industrial for 240 acres at Hwy. 249, Rocky Road Nov. 29. (Anna Lotz/Community Impact Newspaper)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: Tomball City Council approves development of 240 acres at Hwy. 249, Rocky Road; JLB Eatery coming soon to Katy and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Dec. 1.

The new character building curriculum will be implemented at all grade levels. (Courtesy Pexels)
New Braunfels ISD expands character education curriculum to secondary students

The curriculum will be incorporated at each grade level.

Crust Pizza Co. is opening soon in Montgomery and Willis. (Courtesy Crust Pizza Co.)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: 5 businesses coming to McKinney; Crust Pizza Co. to open two locations in Montgomery, Willis and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Nov. 30.

Lupe Tortillas serves Tex-Mex fare, including fajitas and handmade flour tortillas. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Pho 4 Star closes; Lupe Tortilla coming soon and more New Braunfels business news

Here are businesses that have recently opened, are coming soon or closed in New Braunfels.

I Live Here I Give Here encourages individuals to donate to nonprofit organizations in their community. (Courtesy I Live Here I Give Here)
I Live Here I Give Here encourages Austinites to donate to local organizations Nov. 30

The nonprofit is encouraging the community to donate for Giving Tuesday on Nov. 30.

The median home price in the Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto area has risen considerably since last October. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: Home sales, costs in Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto remain hotter than Greater Austin; Halal Guys opens in Pearland and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Nov. 29.

The Austin Trail of Lights will open nighly from Nov. 28 through Dec. 31. (Courtesy Trail of Lights Foundation)
PHOTOS: Austin Trail of Lights returns to Zilker Park this week

The traditional holiday light show is open from Nov. 28 through New Year's Eve.

Commissioners on Nov. 22 voted to approve a density change to preliminary plans for The Preserve, a neighborhood that city documents said could include 565 single-family homes at the northeast corner of Teel and Panther Creek Parkways. (Courtesy city of Frisco)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: Neighborhood near PGA Frisco could see larger lots; ERCOT says Texas power grid ready for expected winter demand and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Nov. 24.

Local and state officials have made statements welcoming Samsung to Taylor following the announcement that the city will be home to its new $17 billion semiconductor fabrication plant. (Courtesy KXAN)
State, local officials react to Texas governor, Samsung joint announcement

Local and state officials have made statements welcoming Samsung to Taylor following the announcement that the city will be home to its new $17 billion semiconductor fabrication plant.