Around the corner from million-dollar residences and upscale shopping and dining sits North Dallas High School, where one out of eight students is without a home. Not surprising when you consider that Dallas County has the highest rate of children living in poverty in the state. But if you’re like most residents you’re shocked by these statistics and question how you couldn’t have known before now. The answer is simple: It’s a hidden problem.
For most, homelessness evokes images of adults begging on street corners. So it’s no surprise that teens without a consistent home don’t identify as such, but rather describe their situation as something closer to bouncing around hotels with friends. They work hard at blending in and disappearing into the communities they inhabit. Incarnation House does more than serve as the eyes of this community. It serves as its heart.
It was inconceivable that a fifteen-year-old girl could be homeless and alone on the streets of Dallas. But that was the startling realization made by one of the parish members of Church of the Incarnation when she was paired with the child through an outreach program. Was this an isolated event? As members of the church investigated, a shocking fact was revealed. There are more than 3,000 homeless students in DISD, nearly 200 of which attend North Dallas High School, which is directly across the street from the church.
In 2012, Church of the Incarnation helped to create and operate a drop-in program at North Dallas High School for students who had no place to call home or were at risk of becoming homeless. The program was designed to provide immediate needs such as food, school supplies, uniforms, and toiletries. On average, the drop-in program, which is still in operation today, supports 50 kids. It was in the weekly interactions between the volunteers and kids that a greater need was identified, and subsequently, a great opportunity for the community.
It was common to see students that visited the drop-in program wearing the same dirty uniform day after day. They would ask for an extra helping at breakfast to eat for dinner or to give to a sibling. But they needed more than just material things, they needed access to a network of community leaders – those willing to provide the resources and time to help these kids discover their full potential and develop the essential life skills needed to break free from the cycle of abuse and poverty. Thus, Incarnation House was born as its own 501©3 organization – ready to provide a consistent and stable environment for these kids.
They come from backgrounds of poverty, neglect, and abuse. Although their nights are filled with anxiety and uncertainty over where they will sleep or where they will get their next meal, every morning they rise with the goal to get to school – to get an education, yes, but also to get to a safe place if for even 7 hours. Incarnation House works to extend the walls of that safe place with after-school programming designed to provide physical, educational, and emotional support. Because these kids deserve what every child deserves – a future.
Incarnation House is located at the north end of the church campus on Elizabeth Street in a building anonymously donated by a parish family. That gift will also serve as the Outreach Center that houses the church’s Mission & Outreach team, providing much needed office, storage, and work space as they continue to identify needs in our surrounding community and beyond.
To find out more or how to get involved visit: incarnationhouse.org or contact Laura at