By Hailey Persinger
Killeen Daily Herald
A steering committee working to help Killeen's homeless has identified three possible locations for its Heritage House project.
The group, made up of representatives from the Christian Assistance Network, Killeen Independent School District, Bell County Human Services and several other groups, hopes to begin giving Killeen's homeless a place to stay by the end of the year.
Depending on zoning approval and costs, they could soon find warm beds and hot meals in the old fire station on Avenue D, the former site of Bell Haven Nursing Home off Rancier Avenue or a third, undisclosed, location.
"It obviously would certainly benefit us if we could have something like that," said Alvin Dillard, Killeen Police Department chaplain and head of the steering committee, of the Bell Haven facility. "It's certainly in a great location. But whether that comes to be or not, that would have to be down the road."
Alvin said the Heritage House, which will look mostly to grants for funding, will give Killeen's estimated 800-plus homeless an address to put on job applications, a place to stay and a group of supporters from throughout the community.
Many of the city's less fortunate, he said, do not resemble the picture that pops into most people's heads when they hear the word "homeless."
"We have kind of a statement attached to it and we identify people who are drug addicts or derelicts … and also the mentally ill that may be in that situation," Dillard said. "In those numbers we're not identifying a lot."
While that number comes to fewer than 20, Dillard said KISD had identified families that find housing only as it's offered.
At the Heritage House, housing will be an option for them on a consistent basis.
"Heritage House is not just going to be limited to those we traditionally identify as homeless," Dillard said. "I think what we've got the potential of doing is providing some of those services that will help people on the road to succeeding."
Killeen City Council members agreed in April to support the committee's efforts. While the group has made no monetary requests from the city, Dillard said the support alone will help the shelter start running.
"It looks as if we have some very good support from our city leadership. As our businesses come aboard I think it's going to be more helpful as well," he said. "With redevelopment taking place downtown I believe we can be something that can be an attribute."
Those interested in helping the committee achieve its vision for the Heritage House can call 634-0178 or 338-8777.
Contact Hailey Persinger at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568. Follow her on Twitter at KDHcity.