In one week the city of Killeen will open applications for federal grants issued through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In the past, the city received around $1.5 million each year for programs, such as affordable housing developments and family crisis management.
During a meeting Thursday at the Killeen Arts and Activities Center downtown, residents, public servants and nonprofit organizers discussed the greatest needs for the community.
At the top of the list was the need for a homeless shelter, a project that several members of the Killeen City Council also have stepped behind in budget talks this week.
In January, a one-day census of Killeen’s homeless population found nearly 50 individuals experiencing homelessness; however, Killeen does not have a homeless shelter.
Each year the city receives more than 20 applications for Community Development Block Grants and Home Investment Partnerships Act grants, which are considered by the Community Development Advisory Committee.
“For so many agencies the funding is a make-or-break for a program,” said Leslie Hinkle, director of community services for the city of Killeen.
Applications for the grants will be released March 1 and must be submitted by 5 p.m. April 5.
Becky Howard, education coordinator at Bell County Human Services, said solving the problem of homelessness in a community requires several levels of support, from mental health care to job training and education.
“We want to stop them before they get to that homeless situation,” Howard said.
During Thursday’s brainstorming workshop, Ky Hoelscher, a social work intern at the Greater Killeen Free Clinic, suggested the city create a single-site homeless complex with health care, cleaning facilities, an overnight shelter and job training.
“The number one problem in public service is accessibility,” Hoelscher said. “If you can’t get there, it’s not going to happen.”
In March the city will hold two workshops to help candidates prepare their applications. The first workshop will be at 8:30 a.m. March 7 and the second at 1:20 p.m. March 18.