Denton County's Annual Homeless Population Count Determines Funding for Homeless Services

As Denton County's population continues to grow, so does its number of homeless people. Advocates spent Thursday trying to get an accurate count of people who are living on the streets.

The point-in-time count focuses on Denton and Lewisville — two cities in the county with the highest numbers of homeless and the most services available to them.

Joe Snyder is one of them. He found Denton, by way of Louisiana.

"They say, 'Don't Mess With Texas,'" Snyder said. "But I love Texas now, you know?"

Snyder spent the previous night at Monsignor King Outreach Center in Denton. It's now home — a shelter he shares some nights with close to 100 others.

"Yes sir, I like it out here," he said.

Advocates say Snyder is one of between 200 and 300 homeless people living in Denton County. His path here came after prison and jail stints, and a desire to turn things around.

"If I do something, and I paid the price for doing it, they should let go of me," he said. "Just let me move on with my life so I can try and better myself and get a good job."

Eighty volunteers spent the day counting people like Snyder.

"I will say our numbers have started to increase slowly," said Courtney Cross, director of homeless initiatives for United Way of Denton County.

The annual point-in-time count is required for counties to receive federal funding for homeless programs.

"Funding is always a struggle," Cross said. "Not only acquiring it, but reporting it and measuring accurately."

The count also provides a snapshot of the needs of homeless folks. Results of the count will be tallied up and shared with residents in the spring.

"If you want to continue trying to better yourself, you got to go to these places and benefit as much as you can," Snyder said.

That is what he is trying to do: better himself, stay out of trouble and get off the streets.

"I'm just gonna go back home where I have no felonies, and I can live life," he said.

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