When the temperature drops below freezing in Killeen, buildings that would normally not be allowed to accept homeless people for the night are allowed to be used as emergency shelters, Killeen Police Chaplain Alvin Dillard said.
“During a cold spell (the city) disbands the rules and regulations for emergency shelters to be made,” Dillard said.
With the recent cold snap, Pastor Steve Chae has opened his downtown nonprofit, Jesus Hope & Love Mission, to area homeless.
Killeen does not have a 24-hour homeless shelter and — because of how the building is zoned — the mission would not normally be allowed to house the homeless.
“Tonight we are going to be feeding anyway and so I am going to stay,” Chae said, as temperatures approached the 20s Monday.
The mission, which provides a free meal to area homeless and needy, will be used as an emergency shelter for the third year in a row.
In years past, between seven and 15 area homeless people spent the night under Chae’s vigil.
This year each night that the temperatures drop below freezing, Chae and his volunteers will set up cots and keep the heater running all night, he said.
“I am going to stand by here and stay,” Chae said. “This is going to be an open emergency shelter for freezing temperatures only.”
The downtown mission will also coordinate with local police to give the homeless an option to sleep either at the Central Texas Youth Services, for juveniles only, or the Cove House Emergency Homeless Shelter in Copperas Cove.
“The people that are homeless pretty much know that’s what they are supposed to do,” Dillard said.
The city of Temple opened two warming centers Monday night, to provide a warm area for refuge, water, blankets, toilet facilities and limited hygiene items.
More information about the Temple warming centers may be found by dialing 211 Texas Health and Human Services.
Dillard has worked with area homeless both as a policeman and as the representative police department in a community planning project to build a general homeless shelter.
“We want to find an alternative to people that are on the street who might be committing an offense such as trespassing, in order to survive,” Dillard said.
“If it’s going to get into freezing temperatures, people go into survival mode. They are going to do what they have to do in order to survive.”