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Matthew’s Path Out of Homelessness

June 23, 2020

Matthew slept under a highway overpass for years. Living in the shadows of the highway protected him from the scorching Dallas sun, but without a home and without the support of friends and family, he lived alone in the darkness of homelessness, faced an addiction to drugs, and struggled to manage a schizophrenia diagnosis.

Nearly five years ago, Matthew met Elizabeth Jordan. The founder of The Human Impact, a Dallas nonprofit that builds friendships with the homeless to connect them with services like jobs and social services, Elizabeth befriended Matthew and grew to know him over the years that followed until Matthew let her know that he couldn’t sleep outside another night.

At the same period of time that Matthew expressed his frustrations about living under the highway, nearby Bonton Farms was working on a temporary shelter solution for its neighbors without homes. The farm had just received a shipment of Pallet shelters — personal, 64 square foot shelters designed to act as a stepping stone out of homelessness and into stability.

Pallet’s personal shelters provide their residents with a safe place to sleep at night, engage in community, and ultimately transition into more permanent housing. Features like locking doors provide a sense of security and peace of mind, allowing residents to lock their personal belongings and leave their shelter to access jobs and other critical activities — or simply enjoy a night of rest without danger or interruption. And the shelters offer their residents a long list of benefits, including air conditioning for relief from hot Dallas summers.

Bonton Farms, an urban farm in Dallas that is helping its neighborhood community prosper with programs that holistically address health, wellness, and housing challenges, saw Pallet’s personal shelters as an opportunity to add personal shelter capacity to their existing programs for Dallas residents without homes.

Working together with Bonton Farms, Elizabeth and The Human Impact were able to offer Matthew a Pallet shelter, moving him off the street and into his own personal space — where he could begin on the pathway to permanent housing.

“He needed more than one things to come together at the same time for him to leave the streets,” said Elizabeth Jordan. “He needed good mental health treatment, he needed a supportive community, and he needed a safe place to live. And he needed them all to happen simultaneously.”

Along with shelter, Matthew received a job, mental and physical health care services, and other support when he moved to Bonton Farms. And meeting with a counselor each week has helped him to navigate the trauma and abuse he endured in his youth and adulthood that has contributed to his schizophrenia.


Photo courtesy of The Human Impact

Photo courtesy of The Human Impact


“[The shelter] brought me from under the bridge to up here. Now I’m not around drugs every day. To me, that’s a blessing.” — Matthew Nard


“To see his joy and to hear his laughter and to get to be his friend in this stage after having walked through the last four years really suffering with him and laughing with him, is like Christmas day,” said Elizabeth Jordan.

The housing model at Bonton Farms works to transform the lives of Dallas residents without homes through a housing model that begins with a personal Pallet shelter. Over time, shelter residents can graduate to more responsibility and a more stable, long term place to live.

As of June 2020, Matthew is preparing to move on from his Pallet shelter and into permanent housing.


“For a long time, I always looked at my future and it didn’t look so good. But now my future looks so much better.” — Matthew Nard

Photo courtesy of The Human Impact

Photo courtesy of The Human Impact

Photo courtesy of The Human Impact

Photo courtesy of The Human Impact


About Bonton Farms

What started as a small garden in a little vacant inner-city lot quickly turned into the City of Dallas’ first urban farm. The team at Bonton Farms believes that their neighborhood should change from within, driven by their own people using their own hands — so they launched Bonton Farms to restore health, create jobs and ignite hope. More than farm, Bonton Farms provides nutrition, housing stability, career mentorship, education, and more for their neighbors in need.

Click here to learn more about Bonton Farms.

About The Human Impact

The Human Impact is a nonprofit committed to walking alongside homeless men and women in South Dallas. They go to the same 2 square blocks less than half a mile south of the Deep Ellum Brewery and Deep Ellum's famous food and nightlife. Over the 6 years of going to the same place weekly, they have developed deep relationships with their friends there walking side-by-side and assisting them as they've found homes, jobs, mental health care and healthy human connection.

Click here to learn more about The Human Impact.


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