In October, Kari Huber lived in an abandoned building with her boyfriend while her 5-year-old daughter stayed with acquaintances.
The 39-year-old New Jersey native and her daughter had been homeless for almost a year, depending on relatives and acquaintances for places to shower and do laundry.
But on Monday, tears rolling down her cheeks, Huber walked into a fresh, new private room at the Morris Foundation Women and Children’s Center in the 2300 block of Poplar Street, a new housing facility and a program of the Presbyterian Night Shelter.
“It’s so beautiful,” Huber said Monday morning as she walked through her 247-square-foot room. “We have beautiful beds to sleep in, and we have beautiful furniture.”
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Huber was one of almost 30 homeless mothers who packed their bags Monday and moved from the Presbyterian Night Shelter to the new center. The Women and Children’s Center has 40 dormitory-style rooms — 12 more than the Night Shelter — plus a dining room, a children’s room, an outdoor playground and a computer center.
The new center will be for all homeless mothers and their children. Women without childrenwill still be enrolled at the Presbyterian Night Shelter.
“As the largest provider of services to the Fort Worth and Tarrant County homeless community, our new Women and Children’s Center is not a traditional emergency shelter,” Presbyterian Night Shelter executive director Toby Owen said in a news release. “The Morris Foundation Women and Children’s Center is home to an innovative housing program that will increase the quality and impact of support services we offer for women and children to move to stable, permanent housing.”
The $8.4 million center was funded mostly with local donations, along with a federal grant, Owen said Monday.
Shelter officials said the new center will help curb the length of stays for homeless mothers, decreasing the time to three to six months. Currently, families stay six to eight months. The center also will provide counseling and education.
In the next several months, shelter officials hope to use a 1,000-square-foot retail space at the center for an enterprise business that will provide internships, job training and revenue.
Shelter official Betsy Beaman emphasized that the new center will provide added job training.
“It also will provide dignity for these mothers,” said Beaman, resource development manager at Presbyterian Night Shelter. “It will give them a sense of comfort and safety.”
The center couldn’t have come at a better time for Huber.
Born and raised in New Jersey, Huber said she was a Girl Scout, a ballerina and a cheerleader as a youngster. But she was abused at home and later in foster homes.
She later married, divorced and had two girls who are now living with relatives.
Huber moved to two other Northeastern states, had a third child and lived in multiple shelters before arriving in Texas last summer with her young daughter.
She and the little girl arrived at the Presbyterian Night Shelter in February.
“My boyfriend and I stayed in an abandoned building here in Fort Worth,” Huber said. “I just didn’t know this area, and I didn’t know where to go for help.”
Friends told her about emergency shelters in Fort Worth, and she and her daughter enrolled at the Presbyterian Night Shelter.
Shelter officials said Huber and other homeless mothers are allowed to stay at the shelter, receive training and counseling at no cost.
“We’re just so excited,” Huber said. “My daughter and I get our own bed, and our own space. I’m just so happy.”
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Helping the homeless
In 2015, the Presbyterian Night Shelter:
- Served 4,335 homeless people, including 602 women and children.
- Transitioned 1,020 people to safe and appropriate housing.
- Served 489,405 meals
- Provided emergency shelter for 3,297 people
Source: Presbyterian Night Shelter