• July 24, 2014

Social service groups experience decline in funding

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Posted: Thursday, February 9, 2012 12:00 pm

By Sean Wardwell

Killeen Daily Herald

Representatives from 14 local social service agencies met Wednesday night at the Killeen HELP Center to begin the process of distributing federal grant funds for the upcoming year.

Funding from Community Development Block Grants and the Home Investment Partnership Grant, which are the city's two biggest sources of social service funding, have seen a steep decline from previous years.

"When we see any decrease, it's a concern to us," said Leslie Hinkle, Killeen's director of community services.

"It makes us work even harder to get some partnership developed so we can participate at some level, and hopefully have a viable project," she said.

Figures provided by Hinkle show a 38 percent decline in funds received through the home investment program, falling from approximately $415,000 in 2011 to about $315,000 this year.

Additionally, there has been a 12 percent decrease in Community Development Block Grant funds over the past four years. Only $927,127 is available for 2012-13. In 2010, that figure was $1,052,139.

Undaunted by these challenges, more than 30 representatives from the social service agencies broke into small groups to begin to decide how to allocate resources.

Woodrow Hall, executive director of Furniture for Families Inc., a nonprofit group that provides furniture to victims of domestic violence, hopes to not only try to secure funding, but network with others in the social service community.

"We hope to get some assistance because we started this organization, but we didn't know the problem was as bad as it is," he said. "When I was leaving my house to come here, I got three different requests for help."

Christina Wilson, an educator with the Killeen Independent School District, said she attended to see what services may be available and inform others of the issues homeless students face.

"So far, in my group, they're concerned about the kids. They weren't aware of the problem we have with some homeless students," she said. "Everyone seems really eager to help take care of children."

Both Wilson and Hall said they believe it is important not only for local social service representatives to attend these meetings, but for the general public as well.

"It's a great place to network and see these different agencies and what they have to offer," she said.

After the next meeting, at 6 p.m. Feb. 23 at the HELP Center, the ideas generated will go to the city's Community Development Advisory Committee, which will then make recommendations to the Killeen City Council in June.

Hinkle said Killeen has been holding these meetings twice a year for the past 32 years, and she's seen many good ideas come from them.

"Hopefully we'll listen to you, you'll listen to us and together, we can create something great," she said.

For more information on the meetings, contact Hinkle at (254) 501-7847.

Contact Sean Wardwell at seanw@kdhnews.com.

About the grants

Community Development Block Grant: Develops viable urban areas by providing decent housing and suitable living conditions, while expanding economic opportunities. In the last 34 years, Killeen has distributed more than $40 million in these grants, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Home Investment Partnership Program: This is the largest federal block grant program for state and local governments to create affordable housing for low-income residents. Since 1995, the city has distributed $6.1 million through this program.

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