The homeless population in Killeen exceeds 500. Not only has the number of homeless increased, but the face of the problem has changed as well over the last year, according to an analysis survey conducted in January.
The study stated the homeless population in the Killeen area shifted from being predominantly single adult males with substance abuse or mental health issues to 27 percent of the population being families. The female population increased from 16 to 37 percent over the past year.
A local not-for-profit organization officially opened its doors Thursday, after three years of preparation, in an effort to drive these statistics down.
Heritage House of Central Texas is working through partnerships with several local entities to unite all the services that play a role in eliminating homelessness.
“Our main objective is not to duplicate the services that are already available,” said Michael Christ, director of Heritage House. “We are here to unite all of the services that are already available in the community. We have a huge service network, but unfortunately no one has the resources to deal with the homeless situation. It takes the combined efforts of every resource.”
The organization will operate as a hub directing the indigent to necessary resources and walking them through different processes until they are self-sufficient.
The center is equipped with a computer lab and staff to aid individuals in job searches and creating resumes. Rita Kelley, HHCT board chair, said individuals also will be provided mail and voicemail services so they can apply for government assistance and be reached when necessary for job interviews or medical appointments.
Case workers will assist individuals in connecting with the right resources to get back on their feet.
“This has been an effort of love and it has taken a lot of work,” Kelly said. “We are here to help a person figure out what it is they need to do to take care of themselves.”
The agency is located in the Bell County Help Center, 718 N. Second St.
Christ said the long-term goal is for the organization to move into the Families in Crisis homeless shelter expected to be complete in 2015.
Once in that facility, the agency also will provide an area for occupants to do laundry and take showers.
For more information on the organization or to get involved, go to www.heritagehouseofcentraltexas.org.