Hunger can effect people form all walks of life. Many Americans are one job loss or medical crisis away from food insecurity - but some people, including children and seniors, may be at greater risk of hunger than others. Although related, food insecurity and poverty are not the same. Poverty in the United States is only one of many factors associated with food insecurity, In fact, higher unemployment, lower household assets, and certain demographic characteristics also lead to a lack of access to adequate, nutritious food. Hunger can affect people from all walks of life.
Realizing there were many food assistance programs operating in Comal County, the McKenna Foundation understood they were not able to meet the overwhelming needs in our community. According to industry formulas, it is believed we need 2.5 million pounds of food per year in order to completely end hunger. As this volume of food distribution is not reasonably attainable by any one organization or any one method of food distribution, McKenna took action in the form of a Request for Proposal for operation of a client choice food pantry.
There was a need to expand food services within our community for populations not currently being served by existing programs, which included addressing the following issues:
- Accessibility – flexible hours and elimination of residency requirements
- Fresh and Perishable choices – healthy, fresh food options
- Flexibility – clients choose food to meet their needs
The basic premise of the client choice food pantry model is just that - allowing people seeking food assistance to choose for themselves what products they receive. Many client choice pantries resemble small grocery stores, with products arrayed on shelves and in coolers/freezers, from which clients can fill boxes or bags. Having the opportunity to choose their own food gives the people being served a sense of dignity and control.
- Results in less waste: Clients select foods they like and are familiar with cooking.
- Addresses unique family needs: A family’s food needs may be impacted by availability or condition of cooking appliances, cultural differences or religious beliefs.
- Restores dignity to the individual by empowering choice
- Encourages healthy food choices: For example, one local pantry allows families to choose either 5 produce bags full of fresh vegetables or 2 cans of vegetables.
As of July 2016, the median market rate in New Braunfels for a two bedroom apartment was $1,090 per month, with additional cost for utilities (source: Apartment List Rentonomics). In contrast, Housing and Urban development set the fair market rent for Comal County for the same two bedroom apartment at $929 per month, including utilities. Using industry formulas an hourly wage of $17.87 per hour ($37,160 annual income) is needed to afford the HUD rate. An average worker making minimum wage would need 2.5 full-time jobs to afford to live in New Braunfels. This is a housing crisis.
The McKenna Foundation provided $250,000 toward acquisition of the land for the Sunrise Apartment Homes and the New Braunfels Food Bank. Furthermore, the Foundation committed $1,000,000, to the construction of the Sunrise Apartment Homes, which will serve families who are homeless with minor children.
- Comal County lacks the affordable housing stock required to meet current and future needs of its citizens.
- Decent, affordable housing is needed in the form of starter homes for young families. Also needed are options for: minimum/low wage earners, people living on the streets, people who are couch-surfing, living in cramped, multiple family spaces, youth aging out of foster care, seniors on limited fixed incomes, and to keep families out of poor building and site conditions that are unsafe, unhealthy, and over-priced.
- Our 4.8% rental vacancy rate (according to the US Census), with escalating rental, land and construction costs are road blocks to independent living for many.
- Other rent hurdles for low income families include typical moving costs such as security and utility deposits, and utility connection fees.
The Sunrise Apartment Homes will include three two-story apartment buildings on 2.5 acres of land, located at 1530 South Seguin Street in New Braunfels, Texas. A total of 43 modest two and three bedroom apartment homes will be constructed. The site will include on-site laundry facilities, on-site playground, ground level parking, and an administrative office.
People to be Served
The Sunrise Apartment Homes provides a bridge to housing independence for families with minor children. These families exhibit determination through successful completion of local non-profit life skills programs. They are ready to live on their own but find local market rents too high, the number of affordable units too low, and rental transaction costs unattainable. Faced with these adversities they are at risk of reverting to the conditions that brought them to seek assistance in the first place.
Sunrise Apartment Homes will provide 6-24 months of housing, funded from client-paid rent starting at or below HUD fair market rent, allowing families time to build financial resources and reserves. This bridge offers them a path to permanent housing independence.
NB Housing Partners is a team of professionals and community volunteers closely connected to housing issues for local populations: we know our clientele, we know Comal County, we know the housing affordability and security hurdles. A plan to develop the Sunrise Apartment Homes, our community’s first resource for direct service to families who are homeless with minor children, grew out of first-hand business and community knowledge and experience.
Five local non-profit agencies who have exhibited success in helping families toward independent living are working with NB Housing Partners Board of Directors to develop program and partnership details to best fit their client needs:
- Family Promise
- St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, Pregnant Mothers program
- Crisis Center of Comal County
- Communities in Schools
New Braunfels Works is a comprehensive and supportive training program that increases the employability skills of at-risk populations while linking potential employers and their needs with an enhanced, more prepared workforce. With skill development, self-sufficiency is an attainable goal for many low wage earners. In addressing skill gaps and other factors contributing to issues of employability, this collaborative program also addresses financial insecurity which is commonly at the root of family dysfunction. These issues often result in increased burdens on community support systems.
New Braunfels Works is an encouraging and supportive program.
- is based on personal responsibility
- teaches job search and job retention skills
- provides one-on-one job search coaching
- builds confidence to succeed in job searches
New Braunfels Works helps youth and adults learn how to find and keep meaningful jobs through classes and one-on-one services that are no charge to the client. Assistance includes help with resumes, cover letters, job applications, preparation for an interview and interview follow-up.
Beginning in October 2014, the McKenna Foundation established and convened a Mental Health Task Force with the goal of identifying community needs, gaps in services, and ultimately a comprehensive list of funding priorities related to mental and behavioral health. Approximately 29 provider agencies as well as city and county officials participated in the series of six meetings, which culminated in February 2015 with plans to carry forward the enthusiasm and momentum created by the initiative. The Task Force developed a community vision related to mental and behavioral health services and goals to create a comprehensive continuum of services that will effectively meet the needs of New Braunfels, Comal County and the surrounding areas.
We envision unfettered access to quality, community-based mental health services throughout Comal County for families, children and adults. We expect that services will reflect evidence-based practices whenever possible. In order to accomplish this vision, we intend to work together in multiple ways to:
- Promote community education and prevention
- Develop a comprehensive continuum of locally available services that addresses the needs of the community
- Expand and improve access to services for the outlying communities
Summary of Critical Needs
- Crisis services, inclusive of both inpatient stabilization and outpatient emergency intervention services.
- Mental and behavioral health services for teens and young adults through school-based and student engagement opportunities.
- Parent education to recognize and intervene early in mental and behavioral health issues.
- Qualified psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, licensed social workers and counselors to create a continuum of services.
- Local inpatient treatment options, either through recruiting new providers or establishing treatment beds through local hospitals.
- Integrated treatment programs for those consumers dealing with dual diagnosis issues (mental health and substance abuse).
- Community education and advocacy to ensure successful prevention, early identification and intervention, and an increased understanding of mental health issues with a corresponding reduction in stigma and its many consequences.
New Braunfels Area Community Foundation
The New Braunfels Area Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity, was established in 2009 when a group of civic-minded individuals saw the need to create a local community foundation that offers individuals, businesses and families a professional and efficient way to match philanthropic efforts with the needs of the New Braunfels area. The main purpose of a community foundation is to build an endowment of funds to secure the future and legacy of giving. Since inception, the McKenna Foundation has provided operating support to help create this community fund that will benefit the community for generations.
NBACF lays the groundwork to help the New Braunfels community with its charitable giving through several types of funds including donor advised, scholarship, designated and unrestricted funds by:
- Creating a culture of charitable giving and providing sound stewardship of funds and endowments.
- Offering comprehensive services to donors, thereby enhancing the impact and efficiency of their charitable giving.
- Safeguarding donor intent in perpetuity.
- Offering informed grant making and support to nonprofits.
- Facilitating strategic and innovative solutions to current community needs and emerging issues.
- As a 501(c)(3) public charity, gifts receive the maximum tax deduction under current tax law.
- Capital gains tax cannot be levied on gifts to a community foundation.
- A gift to the community foundation relieves the benefactor of administrative burdens and overhead expenses.
McKenna Parenting Program
The Parenting Program at McKenna helps good people become great parents. Our program matches local families with a trained home visitor to offer support, guidance and referrals. Our program, Parents As Teachers, has been tested & proven to help families prepare young children for success in school & beyond.
The best part? Services are Free!
Reach out today for information on referrals, eligibility and availability.
Children are only young once - we want to help you make the most of your child's first, most important, years.
We will help by providing support, information on development, and parenting tips to ensure your child is healthy, safe & ready to learn.
- Referrals welcome from anyone - family, friends, doctors, courts, DFPS
- Flexible home visit schedules
- Bilingual services available