Last week, at a grand announcement introduced by Governor-elect Greg Abbott, the United Health Foundation awarded $2.88 million dollars to The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine.  The funds were allocated to expand the University’s developing Colonia Integrated Care Program: VIDAS (Valley Interprofessional Development And Services).  The Colonia Integrated Care Program aims to stream-line regional health care delivery services in order to better connect low income families to the region’s resources.  The specific services of the program will include upgrading available medical screenings, health education, and dental and mental health services.  Further, the new program will also focus on standardizing the training practices of regional promotoras (local instructors who provide community health education). 

                The United Health Foundation grant marks an impressive step forward in improving the health of one of the sickest and most under-insured populations in Texas.  Although it is well known that the area’s high rates of preventable diseases create a major financial burden for local taxpayers, little progress has been made in curbing the rampant crisis.  Expanding knowledge of healthy living practices and access to medical resources with the Colonia Integrated Health Program will undoubtedly bring relief for many low income families. 

That being said, this investment will not resolve all of the health issues that are distressingly pervasive throughout the Lower Rio Grande Valley.  Rehabilitating substandard housing, expanding health care coverage, and circulating health education are only a few of the pieces that are needed to improve the quality of life in the area long-term.  Only with a targeted, cohesive development strategy is holistic health reform possible in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.      


By Kraig Fiero

Throughout Texas, there are people doing amazing things to help prevent and end homelessness. Homeless Coalitions have the difficult task of staying on top of new regulations and information as well as getting busy service providers to meet on a regular basis. For the month of January, THN would like to showcase one such coalition.

The Victoria Area Homeless Coalition has been working diligently for the past 30 years to bring awareness to their community. 

The Victoria Area Homeless Coalition was formed in 1985 by a group of concerned citizens and is a volunteer-run non-profit organization.  Members include non-profits, churches, businesses and individuals dedicated to preventing and ending homelessness in the Victoria area. This group not only oversees Victoria county but helps six other counties in Texas, including Goliad, DeWitt, Gonzales, Lavaca, Calhoun and Jackson.

Victoria Photo

L to R: Gary Moses, Tyler Warner, Christine Krause, Carol Ayala, Jane Bernal and son

The newly elected Officers for the Board's next two-year term are:

Kim Pickens - President
Arturo Lara - Vice President
Amy Hatmaker - Treasurer
Johanna Rohan - Secretary

This past November the coalition held a number of events during Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week and offereds service opportunities at their  partner organizations. The week kicked off with a food drive benefiting the Food Bank of the Golden Crescent and ended with a luncheon with invited speaker, Alan Graham of Austin's Mobile Loaves and Fishes. 

“We have a lot of work ahead of us regarding Affordable Housing, but we have a lot of people who are interested in making a difference!” ~ Kim Pickens, President

Victoria Photo2

Jodi Sandoval in front of the Feeding America truck

To find out more information or to get involved with this Coalition; you can contact:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vahctx

Twitter: @endpovertyvahc

By Sophia Checa


From the left: Mary Dodson (Continuum of Care Manager), Sophia Checa (Coordinated Access Specialist), and University of Texas School of Social Work students Hellen Hollis, Michelle Binion, Katy Herbers, and Melody Huslage

During the Fall Semester 2014, Texas Homeless Network (THN) worked with a small group of students from Doctor Cal Streeter’s Dynamics of Organizations and Communities class at the University of Texas School of Social Work (UTSSW). The group was tasked with developing a gaps analysis template for the Balance of State Continuum of Care to utilize during the implementation of Coordinated Access, United States Department of Housing and Urban Development mandated systems change.  

The students analyzed how the system currently serves individuals at-risk or currently experiencing homelessness. They also made predictions about how an ideal system would work. An ideal system is one where there are no individuals experiencing homelessness. While poverty may still exist and people will be at-risk of homelessness, the system will be able to quickly bounce people back into housing, i.e., preventing homelessness and/or reducing the length of time people are homeless.

The students researched gaps analyses, developed a template, and used the template to complete a gaps analysis for Corpus Christi. Based on their findings, they made the following recommendations to assist in systems change – moving from the current system to the ideal system – across the Balance of State:

  • Communities in the Balance of State should organize community engagement meetings and make an effort to include those currently experiencing homelessness or at-risk of homelessness in those meetings;
  • Communities in the Balance of State should implement Coordinated Access;
  • Communities in the Balance of State should adopt diversion;
  • Communities in the Balance of State should utilize the Vulnerability Index – Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool (VI-SPDAT); and
  • Communities in the Balance of State should direct (reallocate) resources away from emergency shelter and transitional housing toward rapid re-housing and permanent supportive housing .

THN would like to thank Hellen, Michelle, Katy, and Melody for their hard work. They accomplished a lot in a short amount of time and thoroughly impressed us with their knowledge during the presentation of their project at the UTSSW on December 2, 2014 (see picture above).

t3 (think. teach. transform) is partnering with Texas Homeless Network to increase access to training by lowering tuition for providers who work with vulnerable populations.

This Spring, t3 is offering three online instructor-led courses to instill essential best practices:

  • Developing Your Identity, Skills, and Confidence as a Supervisor starting on March 12, 2015.
  • How to Implement Critical Time Intervention starting on March 26, 2015.
  • Bringing Trauma-Informed Care to Everyday Practice starting on April 1, 2015.
  • Motivational Interviewing: Facilitating Change starting on April 23, 2015

Each course meets for one hour per week for five consecutive weeks. Contact Rachel Berkowitz at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (781) 247-1741 to register or learn more. Be sure to mention Texas Homeless Network to receive your special discount. 

The Texas Conference on Ending Homelessness, presented by Texas Homeless Network, Region 10 Education Service Center, and Texas Homeless Education Office, is now accepting applications to present. The Conference will be held September 30 - October 2, 2015 in Corpus Christi. Submit your proposal here.