The general-use homeless shelter planned for downtown Killeen may open its doors sooner than expected, thanks to additional funding from the city.
The Killeen City Council unanimously agreed at its regular meeting Tuesday to amend its general fund in the current fiscal year budget by $250,000 — a move that will expedite the opening of the shelter.
“The principal reason for doing this is that we don’t want there to be another winter without a homeless shelter,” Mayor Dan Corbin said.
A proposal for the shelter was submitted last year by Families in Crisis Inc., a local nonprofit that provides shelter and services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
The project gained traction in June when it received the council’s blessing and $500,000 in federal funding.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allotted $1.6 million to the city last year to split between local nonprofits for projects that aid the indigent population.
Larry Moehnke, the agency’s board president, said the shelter secured more than $750,000 of the estimated $1 million needed to complete the shelter. He said the $250,000 would help expedite the facility’s opening, moving the projected date from March 2015 to this December.
Killeen, the largest city in Bell County, does not have a general-use homeless shelter.
The city currently uses the Killeen Community Center as a warming station for the homeless population when temperatures dip below freezing.
A point-in-time homeless count conducted by the city in January showed an increase in the number of homeless from the previous year’s numbers.
Leslie Hinkle, Killeen director of community development, said 79 people identified themselves as homeless during last month’s count, as opposed to 2013’s 57 surveyed.
The shelter, at 412 Sprott St., near downtown Killeen, is 9,000 square feet, and will operate as an overnight shelter with the capacity for 72 men and women.
In addition to being a shelter, the facility will offer support services, housing assistance, assistance navigating veterans and mainstream benefits available to the indigent.