Steve Chae, a Killeen pastor, gives no lip service. He is a man of action.
Last month, Chae purchased a one-acre property in downtown Killeen, where he plans to start a transitional house and emergency shelter.
Chae plans to provide men’s and women’s transitional housing, an office and other facilities on the site, located between Park and College streets on Harrison Avenue.
“Somebody’s got to start somewhere,” Chae said. “God started it. God will finish it.”
At his soup kitchen on Fourth Street — the Jesus Hope & Love Homeless Mission — Chae serves two free meals each week, giving him a finger on the pulse of Killeen’s homeless situation.
In January, a one-day survey of 10 Killeen locations identified 46 homeless people in Killeen, although other estimates place the number closer to 85, and the city does not have a homeless shelter.
Chae said demand for a homeless shelter in Killeen is high.
“We cannot wait,” Chae said. “These people are going to call, even today. And they call, call, call.”
Chae’s nonprofit still has $115,000 to raise before it owns the property outright, but the community is coming out in force to help out.
Purchasing fees and the down payment were paid through $8,300 in community donations raised in a month and a half.
On Saturday, 20 soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, helped Chae remove damaged carpets and broken appliances from several of the buildings.
Although the soldiers made great strides with the buildings, the property has a long way to go.
The one-acre property currently has five buildings, two of which will have to be torn down, Chae said.
He plans to transform three of the buildings into a men’s dormitory, a women’s dormitory and a business office.
Looking at the property, Chae said he imagines a “multifaceted, transitional community living here, sleeping here, going to work, making it work through teamwork.”
Chae said residents will have to follow a transitional program, which requires tenants to work toward a better life in order to stay.
“We are not going to do only (a) shelter; because people come and go from a shelter, and start over again,” Chae said. “Hopefully (here), they will say to each other, ‘Yes, we can do it,’”
With a mortgage, zero staff and less money, the nonprofit has a long way to go, but Chae and volunteer Dan Galanffy are confident this property is the strong foundation out of which the rest will be built.
“It’s something we’ve got right now,” Galanffy said. “If we can get a little bit of help, we can get started right away.”
It’s unclear when the shelter will open and how many beds it will have.
Call Pastor Steve Chae at (254) 291-2314 or send money to: P.O. Box 1595, Killeen, TX 76540.