A project to build a general-use homeless shelter in downtown Killeen earned $500,000 and the blessing of the Killeen City Council on Tuesday, after the body unanimously approved the project for federal funds.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allotted $1.6 million this year to the city to split between local nonprofits for projects that help Killeen’s needy.
Establishing a homeless shelter in the city was among the council’s top three priorities for 2013, according to a survey conducted in April.
Killeen — the largest city in Bell County — does not have an general-use homeless shelter.
The homeless shelter project was submitted by Families in Crisis Inc., a local nonprofit that has provided shelter and services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence in the area for more than 33 years.
Families in Crisis staff and a board member, who attended the meeting, said the project could begin in October — when the money is awarded — and estimated its completion by March 2015.
“It’s going to be a big project, and this is the start of it,” said William Hall, director of operations at Families in Crisis.
The nonprofit plans to renovate a 9,000-square-foot building in the 400 block of East Sprott Street in downtown Killeen. Total renovation of the building was estimated to cost $1 million.
“This is going to be a quality facility, efficient and effective, and so it’s important that upfront we do things that we need to do to make sure it is a quality facility,” said Larry Moehnke, the agency’s board president.
The agency plans to run a full-fledged overnight shelter with capacity for 70 men and women at the location, just two blocks from the Killeen Arts and Activities Center.
The Killeen Community Development Advisory Committee vetted proposals from local nonprofits in May and made its recommendations to the council this month, including the homeless shelter project.
“Right place, right agency, right time,” said Kim Barr, chairman of CDAC.
Nine public and private agencies will receive funds through the HUD grants, including Communities in Schools, Bell County Health and Human Services, and the city of Killeen.
A street outreach program submitted by the Heritage House and three civil projects submitted by the city were among those proposals not awarded funding this year.
“The city has been looking at getting a homeless shelter for some time,” Barr said. “Unfortunately that didn’t leave much left over to fund many of the other things we are used to funding.”