We Need to Talk About Affordable Housing

Posted on October 15, 2019

If you live in Denton, you likely know that access to affordable and stable housing is a significant issue that profoundly impacts people across our community. At our agency, we see clients living at the intersection of homelessness and domestic violence who are in dire need of the services provided by our Transitional Housing Program. To better understand how our city is addressing the housing crisis, we attended The Affordable Housing Panel, which took place on September 5th at CoServ’s headquarters in Corinth. Check out our insights into what we learned.

What the Experts Said

Many different organizations attended the panel, each offering a unique perspective on the affordable housing situation in Denton County. Sheryl English, a chair of the Denton Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, discussed Denton Housing Authority’s limitations in providing housing vouchers to citizens in need. English noted that the waitlist for housing vouchers stands at a long two years and that they are currently not accepting new additions at this time. English also spoke to the crucial difference between the Dallas Housing Authority (DHA) North Texas and the Public Housing program. Public Housing is a government-funded and run agency that we do not have in Denton. 

On the other hand, DHA funding comes from the government; however, it is not a government entity. In discussing what our city is doing to encourage building more affordable housing, Dani Shaw, Community Development Manager for the City of Denton, explained the different tax and building incentives that the city could offer builders, such as flexibility with city codes during construction. If the City of Denton can provide different ways that contractors can cut costs, then they are more likely to offer affordable housing in the community. 

How the housing crisis impacts low-income individuals in Denton

Much of the focus of the panel discussion centered around how the community can further advocate for affordable housing on the city and county levels. As it currently stands, there is not enough housing for the city of Denton or for Denton County that is accessible for individuals and families with a lower income. In their 2019 Out of Reach study, the National Low-Income Housing Coalition found that to afford a 2-bedroom unit, without paying more than 30% of their income, a person needs to make $20.29 an hour. Individuals not making that much might find themselves cutting costs in other areas which can impact their health or wellbeing, leading to housing instability and homelessness. Adults might keep an average of two full-time jobs or more to afford a two-bedroom home, according to the same study. 

Victims of domestic abuse are often hit hardest

The panel did more than contextualize the need for more affordable housing; they also took time to discuss some of the challenges to the development of affordable housing and the ways in which people can get involved in making that possible. This has an adverse impact on our clients. 

If you consider that 99% of domestic violence victims also experience economic abuse, then it becomes easier to understand why access to stable housing is a vital component to the safety of our clients — and often the most challenging barrier to their success. 

Often, victims of domestic abuse can experience discrimination in housing and development. Affordable housing (or workplace housing, as Dr. Laura Keyes encouraged us to call it) tends to be met with community pushback. It is a phenomenon referred to as “Not in My Backyard” or NIMBY-ism. There is a harmful misconception that people living in low-income housing will bring issues, such as drug or alcohol addiction, domestic violence, and higher unemployment rates in the area, which people fear will drive down property values and increase crime rates. Often, once residents find that zoning for low-income housing is near their neighborhood, lobbying against construction begins. 

It’s time for the community to speak up

But the stigma is misguided, notes the panelists. The people who primarily need workforce housing are average Americans — teachers, first responders, or retail workers. It’s time for community members to push back and help address some of those misconceptions. To make matters worse, the state of Texas does not have laws that protect from income discrimination, allowing properties to turn people away who do not meet strict income restrictions or who are working with housing programs, such as Section 8. The lack of accessibility severely limits the places that prospective tenants can access or, worse, can prevent them from accessing housing at all.   

Whether you call it workplace housing or affordable housing, it is critical to remember that access to a stable place to live is a significant issue that affects people across North Texas. Moreover, affordable housing is crucial to the success of the clients we serve every day at Denton County Friends of the Family. You can get involved by contacting your City Council representative, educating yourself on the issue, and supporting our Transitional Housing Program. Denton, this issue is in your backyard — and it impacts every single one of us. We cannot afford to look the other way.   

Learn more about Denton County Friends of the Family’s Transitional Housing Program at https://www.dcfof.org/transitional-housing-program 

Written by Denton County Friends of the Family’s Victoria Schofield, Housing Navigator and McKenna Johnson, Transitional Housing Intern 

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DCFOF Provides Hope and Safety

Posted on October 1, 2019


    Our agency was about to close one evening, when a young girl and her mother came to the doors of our agency at the request of the Denton Police Department and Denton ISD. The young girl had made an outcry to her school counselor about being sexually assaulted by an older male. The girl’s mother was in a state of shock, as was the young girl. Mom was trying to juggle many things in her mind: the instructions provided to her by the school, the police department’s questions, her daughter’s feelings and thoughts, her own feelings about the situation, and the victim’s siblings’ feelings about what was happening. She was attempting to understand all these things in a language that she does not fully understand, as she and her family are from another country. Mom first came to the United States, like many other immigrants, in search for a better life for her and her children; she, too, is a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault. The father of her children was also abusive to their children.  

    The evening of their arrival to Denton County Friends of the Family, a counselor who spoke their native language was made available to mother, daughter, and siblings that were present. The counselor tended to the mother’s needs by answering her questions in a manner that she was able to comprehend, as they were in her own language. This brought solace to this Mom because she felt that someone cared enough to provide her with the answers to her questions in an empathetic manner. Her child was taken to a separate office to see a counselor. Once in the office, the counselor provided services to her in both English and her native language in order to provide a safe space for the client to tell her story, in her own way. After speaking with the daughter, both she and her mother went to the police department to make a report against the abuser. As part of their initial meeting at DCFOF, both the child and her mother signed up for individual and group counseling. As time passed, Denton County Friends of the Family Advocates worked in conjunction with other community members to ensure that the family’s counseling, school, and housing needs were met. Mom enjoyed the individual counseling services that were provided to her and continued to attend both individual counseling services and support group.  

     This Mom has always been a very hard worker, attending to two jobs and taking on side jobs in janitorial services to make ends meet for her family. As a client of DCFOF, she has attended and made use of information provided to her in the Financial Empowerment Program. Mom has also attended Nutrition classes to learn how to provide healthy meals on a budget for her family. These tools, coupled with Mom’s determination and sense of hope have brought her and her family to a place in life where they now reside in their own home, which Mom is able to financially sustain on her own. The child, who became pregnant as a result of her assault, gave birth to a child of her own. Through collaborative efforts between Denton County Friends of the Family and other community agencies, she has been through individual counseling services and parenting classes that have assisted her in providing competent parenting skills. While attending services at another community agency, she was invited to go on a special summer camp to learn different ways to bond with her child. DCFOF was able to help provide her with some financial assistance to truly enjoy this camp. At this time, the abuser has served over a year’s time in jail and has been deported to his country of origin. Mother and daughter reside in the same home with daughter’s son and her two siblings. She will continue to attend school this year, feeling safe and supported by her family and Denton County Friends of the Family.

Written by: Dr. Catherine Sang, DCFOF's Individual and Group Therapy Counselor

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BIPP: Committed to Victim and Partner Safety

Posted on September 24, 2019

BIPP: 30 years of Dedication to Batterer Accountability, Three Decades Committed to Victim/Partner Safety

As Denton County Friends of the Family prepares to celebrate its 40 years of service to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, it will highlight the impact that emergency shelter, advocacy, legal services, counseling, transitional housing, and domestic violence education has had on the lives of victims/survivors over the past 4 decades. One critical part of the agency’s rich history that sometimes goes unnoticed is the Battering Intervention and Prevention Program, also known as BIPP. The primary role of BIPP is to help individuals who are abusive or become violent in intimate relationships to identify and change beliefs that support their choice to be violent.

BIPP counseling groups were incorporated into DCFOF services in 1988, and the agency was among one of the first domestic violence programs in Texas to integrate offender group counseling as part of their core services. The agency’s early leadership and BIPP staff quickly gained a reputation for its innovative approach to batterer accountability, and in the early 1990’s they played a pivotal role in the development of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Community Justice Assistance Division (TDCJ-CJAD) BIPP Guidelines. These guidelines were established to provide administrative standards by which BIPP providers in Texas would implement their services to perpetrators of domestic violence.
Excellence in service, guideline compliance, and strong audit scores afforded DCFOF the privilege of becoming one of the first programs in Texas funded through TDCJ-CJAD. The guidelines were revised on several occasions over the next several years, eventually becoming the foundation for the 2009 BIPP Accreditation Guidelines with the latest revisions occurring in 2014.
With its rich history within Texas and Denton County, DCFOF BIPP has played a critical role in keeping victims safe over the past three decades. Although the primary service offered through BIPP is education groups for perpetrators, the program also provides services that directly benefit victims/partners of the enrolled participants. The Partner Advocate program makes contact with the victim/partner by phone to safety plan, provide counseling referrals, and inform the victim/partner regarding the participant’s progress in the BIPP course.
As a fully-accredited provider and the only state funded BIPP in Denton County, the BIPP team continues a long history of innovation through its unique approach to group facilitation, exploring a wide array of group best practices and encouraging increased engagement and accountability by participants in both pre- and post-BIPP enrollment. DCFOF BIPP has also been a leader in providing group services to women who use force/violence in intimate partner relations.

The Battering Intervention Program recognized very early on in its history that in order to be effective in its work with offenders, it needed to establish strong working partnerships with the criminal justice system, child welfare, law enforcement, and victim advocacy organizations. Today, the relationships with Denton County Probation,  Parole, area Law Enforcement departments, Child Protective Services, and DCFOF Shelter/Advocacy services are critical in the work currently done with batterers, making sure that the victim’s story guides offender accountability in all levels of service.     
In continuation of its vibrant and rich history of excellence, DCFOF BIPP completed its most recent state audit in 2019, receiving a 98% compliance rate. The exemplary score reflected the dedication and commitment by BIPP staff and agency leadership to ensure that BIPP continues to provide the highest quality of service. The field of batterer treatment is still in its infancy in comparison to other counseling disciplines, but one can be certain that the DCFOF Battering Intervention and Prevention Program will continue to play an important role in supporting the agency’s mission and be a leader in helping end domestic violence in Denton County.

For more information about BIPP services and information about the upcoming one-day BIPP Conference visit BIPP and BIPP Conference
Written by: David Almager is the Director, Battering Intervention and Prevention Program (BIPP)

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Accountability Through Advocacy

Posted on September 23, 2019

Join us, October 24th, for our Second Annual BIPP Conference, Accountability Through Advocacy. 

9:00 AM - 5:00 PM | Denton Public Training Center | 719 East Hickory St

This conference is designed to provide a comprehensive training opportunity for practitioners in the North Texas Region and enhance their professional knowledge of domestic violence, victim safety, and batterer accountability. The conference is also an avenue for attendees to receive Continuing Education Credits through their respective disciplines. Geared specifically towards both beginners and advanced practitioners in the BIPP field, law enforcement, probation, parole, legal, professional counseling, social work, child protective services, health providers and other social services, this will be a conference you will not want to miss. 

This year's keynote speaker is  Lisa Aronson Fontes, Ph. D., who is an international and national leader in the fields of sexual violence, child abuse, violence against women, and the author of Invisible Chains: Overcoming Coercive Control in Your Intimate Relationship.  

If you would like to attend the event, you can pre-register below. 


Questions? You can e-mail David for more information.

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How To Give Your #OOTD Purpose

Posted on August 6, 2019

Upscale Resale is more than just a thrift store. Here, clients and their families have the opportunity to shop for both personal and household needs. The store is also open to the community where you can find fantastic deals on exceptional clothing items, shoes, furniture, books, and more! Proceeds from the thrift store benefit our agency's extensive and comprehensive services making Upscale Resale your new go-to place. Check out these three looks below to see how you can recreate them with pieces found from our thrift store

For the 9 to 5

As a college intern, I need to look professional while adhering to a tight budget. This outfit is a great business look, that is light and comfortable for summer. The top goes well with a nice pair of jeans for casual Fridays, and the pants are lightweight and look great with a tucked-in solid t-shirt. These comfortable, navy heels dress up any outfit, and I can add a blazer if needed. Pair with a statement necklace to complete this look. 

Total Cost of Outfit: $11.00

For Casual Coffee

When I'm not at my internship, I'm often out for coffee with friends or walking around the square, and this outfit is great for that. The linen top can be worn buttoned down and tucked in, or tied in the front in a knot for a more nautical look. (Those navy heels work great in dressing up this outfit, or some nude sandals tie it all together as well!)
Shirt Cost: $3.75

For A Night Out

Sometimes it can be a toss-up between Pizza Snob or LSA Burger, but regardless of venue, this dress has been my favorite date-night outfit of the summer. I can dress it up with oxford style heels, or I can dress it down with some sandals and a ponytail. 'It's also great for layering with a cardigan for the office, or even leggings and ankle boots for fall. The Giving Key necklace is one of my favorite finds from Upscale Resale as well. These necklaces usually cost $45.00, but the thrift store sells all necklaces and bracelets for $3.50 each. It was a steal for me to find!

Dress: $6.00

Necklace: $3.50

Shoes: $4.00

When you buy from Upscale Resale — you're giving back to the community

 If you’re shopping for the upcoming school year on a budget, need affordable business clothing, or you’re looking for your next great crafting project Upscale Resale provides all of this and gives back to Friends of The Family and your Denton Community. It's incredibly affordable, deeply impactful, and my favorite place to go thrifting. All in all, the Upscale Resale is just another reason to love Denton County Friends of the Family and the work that they do for our community.

Written By: Reighley Baugh, DCFOF Volunteer Committee Member

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Dear Men: Enough is Enough

Posted on July 30, 2019

The article was written by Mark McDaniel, a long-time supporter of Denton County Friends of the Family and owner of Catering by Chef Mark. 

I just finished a weekend volunteering for Denton County Friends of the Family, and I have to say, I’m alarmed.  

I’m alarmed by the number of survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault there are in our community, but I’m in awe of their strength.

I’m alarmed at the frequency with which intimate partner violence occurs, but I’m in awe of the community of women who rally behind this cause.

Above all, I’m disturbed by the numbers.

Where is the outrage? 

Statistically, 1 in 4 women will become a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime, and 2 in 5 Texas women have been victims of sexual assault. To make matters worse, 19% of all domestic violence involves a weapon, and if there’s a gun in the house when domestic assault happens, the chance of homicide goes up by 500%. 
For crimes this prevalent, there should be outrage. But, there’s no national moment of silence for victims of intimate partner violence —no flags have flown at half-mast. Most people probably can’t tell you what the Domestic Violence Awareness ribbon color is (it’s purple, by the way). On the contrary, men in our society are more concerned with not severely impacting the lives of other young men (see, Brock Turner), or whether their favorite artist will put out another album (see, R. Kelly), or if they’ll still be able to serve in the highest offices of our nation (take your pick). We’re more concerned with the reputation of men than the livelihood of the people they’re abusing, and enough is enough. 

The numbers don’t lie

Every minute, 20 more people are physically abused by an intimate partner, equating to roughly 10 million women and men each year. So, to the men reading this: what are you doing to help do your part to end domestic violence? How are you creating awareness in your community, neighborhood, and even in your home? Because as sad as it is, we still live in a man’s world. We’ve never had a female president, and out of every Fortune 500 company, only 24 CEOs are women. We need to show the women in our lives that we care about them, regardless of their connection to us.

We need you to get involved

Fortunately, Denton County Friends of the Family makes it easy for everyday citizens to do the work. For men, specifically, there are several ways to get involved that leave a tremendous ripple effect in the lives of Clients the organization serves. Check out a few examples below:

  • Volunteer at the shelter: When children see men treating women properly, or interacting with them in a non-threatening way, you’re helping them to understand non-violent behavior. 
  • Be an ally: Avoid locker room talk and actively take a stand against men casually making jokes about marginalized groups of people; whether that’s in the office, at the bar, or in your home. If you see something, say something and don’t sweep it under the rug. 
  • Advocate for education at work: The Prevention, Education, and Awareness Program (PEAP) is designed to provide training on the issues for our broader community. If you’ve noticed that you’re workplace doesn’t have training on domestic violence, sexual harassment, or abuse propose that our PEAP team come out and facilitate training. You might be saving someone’s life in the process. 

It’s time

I admit that my eyes have opened in recent months, given my connection to Friends of the Family. But my ask of the men in this community is to stand up, ask questions, and do your part to affect change. Men, it’s time to start recognizing and standing with survivors, rather than ignoring a deadly issue for women. It’s time to start teaching our children and grandchildren what healthy relationships look like, and holding those accountable who don’t model this themselves. It’s time for men to step up and speak out against domestic violence, harassment, and sexual assault. 

So to the men reading this, are you ready to take a stand? 

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Typical warning signs of abuse

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1 in 4 women will experience intimate partner violence

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4,405 adults and children received 94,065 services in 2019