By Kevin M. Smith

Killeen Daily Herald

The Killeen City Council got the ball rolling Tuesday on two stalled projects by moving some funds.

The City Council tabled an ordinance until May 8 that would authorize the reprogramming of $185,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds from prior years' funding to be used for Home and Hope Shelter Inc. and a One-Stop Social Services Center.

The ordinance was tabled, but only to follow procedure. A public notice appeared in Thursday's Killeen Daily Herald. The city must publish that public notice and wait 30 days for comments before reprogramming the funds.

The council is expected to pass the ordinance on May 8 when the ordinance would send $35,000 of unused CDBG funds to Home and Hope Shelter Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides emergency and transitional housing for homeless people for up to 24 months.

"Transitional housing is typically up to 24 months of stay for families or individuals ... they've got a job or got back on their feet, but they're not quite able to go up to full housing where they pay rent or mortgage," said Leslie Hinkle, director of Community Development for Killeen. "In transitional housing usually comes some sort of support services."

The city applied for CDBG funding for a transitional living facility.

"With construction costs skyrocketing over the past couple years, we did not have enough money to award the project," Hinkle said.

The council, at Tuesday's meeting, did reject a bid for the Home and Hope Shelter project, because it was over budget. Hinkle said that with the extra funds allocated, the city will rebid the project. She said the bid process typically takes about a month and a half, so it could be late June before ground is broken on the project.

A new housing facility would be constructed in the 900 block of Mimosa Street, where a Home and Hope house previously sat. It was demolished a couple of years ago because it was too old to be used. Home and Hope Shelter does have usable units, but Hinkle says it needs more.

The tabled ordinance also calls for $150,000 of unprogrammed CDBG funds to be used for architectural and engineering services for a One-Stop Shop Social Services Center. Hinkle said the council left $300,000 of CDBG funds unprogrammed with the intent to use available funds on the First Baptist Church renovations, pending the purchase of the building.

The city has since bought the building at 802 N. Second St.

"It's a timing issue," Hinkle said. "We're in the middle of getting construction estimates and doing the preliminary planning for that. We don't know how much we will need for architectural and engineering, but I've got to put it toward something related to the project."

She said the rest of the $150,000, plus money left over from other projects, will likely be reprogrammed into next year's allocation to be used for renovating the church.

While the church continues having services and activities in the building, it has 18 months to build a new facility.

"In the meantime there are some renovations that could be considered if it's not disruptive to their everyday activity," Hinkle said.

At Tuesday's workshop, the City Council brainstormed with F&S Partners, of Dallas, for what type of offices or uses the city would like to see in the church building.

Overall, Councilman Dick Young said he would like to see it look modern on the outside.

"Update it, make it look fresh," Young said.

Councilman Fred Latham suggested since it's already been decided there will be a Veterans Affairs office in Killeen, that it be located in the church building.

"We need to put a star on that," Mayor Timothy Hancock said as David Mills, of F&S Partners, wrote the council's comments on a giant notepad on an easel.

Council members also suggested that the building include: human services, city record storage, a head-start type of operation, up-to-date technology, a Social Security office, youth activities, college classes, adequate parking and not-for-profit businesses or organizations.

Mills said the initial study will take about 90 days.

The church campus includes various single- and two-story buildings on a site totaling 84,594 square feet.

Contact Kevin M. Smith or call (254) 501-7550

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