Families in Crisis Inc. has thrown its hat into the ring with a bid for federal funding to start a general-use homeless shelter in downtown Killeen.
The city receives an estimated $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development each year, to be split up among projects to help the area’s needy.
Although it is the largest city in Bell County, Killeen does not have a general-use homeless shelter.
Families in Crisis provides services, including overnight shelter, to survivors of domestic and sexual violence and some services to veterans.
Program Director Suzanne Armour said in the past, when the nonprofit declined services to people who had not experienced domestic or sexual violence, the agency realized they had no other resources available to them.
“We thought this is as big a gap that we can fill,” Armour said. “Fortunately, it looks like that’s going to happen.”
The nonprofit plans to renovate a 9,000-square-foot building in the 400 block of East Sprott Street in downtown Killeen, which Families in Crisis has owned for more than a decade.
Armour said the agency hopes to run a full-fledged overnight shelter with capacity for about 70 men and women at the location, two blocks from the Killeen Arts and Activities Center.
The estimated total cost of renovation is about $1 million.
The nonprofit hopes to get about half of the funding for the renovations from a Community Development Block Grant through the city, and the rest from other foundations and community fundraising.
“We are looking very closely at other funding streams, some that we might not have been eligible before because we weren’t serving the general homeless population,” Armour said.
If the money is allocated, work on the project, which includes installing a commercial kitchen and dormitories, could begin as early as Oct. 1, Armour said.
In its list of priorities for 2013, the Killeen City Council ranked a homeless shelter at the top.
Through the summer, the council-appointed Community Development Advisory Committee will sift through applications from local nonprofits to choose which projects will receive HUD funding.
The committee’s choices require approval by the council.
Last week, the council endorsed the Families in Crisis project, as well as another project headed by the downtown soup kitchen, Jesus Hope & Love Homeless Mission.
Last month, Pastor Steve Chae, director of the mission, closed on a property in the 1900 block of North Park Street in downtown Killeen that he plans to renovate into a transitional house and homeless shelter.
The mission has not applied for a portion of the federal funding.
Mayor Pro Tem Michael Lower said the city will support Chae’s project.
“They’ve been working really hard, and putting a lot of sweat and tears helping people out there,” Lower said.
“We will promise that we will do everything that we can to make that happen for you.”