To the Editor:
The topic of Killeen’s homeless has been in the news recently, and you don’t have to look very hard around our city to see these individuals at many of our major intersections.
With sign in hand, they stand patiently, waiting for kind-hearted residents to roll up in their cars and hand them money, food, beverages or all three.
I’m so glad to see that Killeen has so many caring people — those who gladly share with the less fortunate.
As Officer Kyle Moore of the Killeen Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team (H.O.T.) is quoted as saying, “It’s not a crime to be homeless.”
No, it’s not. Many Americans are one paycheck away from being homeless.
Unfortunately, our acts of kindness are making things worse. It’s hard to go anywhere in Killeen without someone asking for “spare change.” They realize that by asking for change, they’re more likely to get several dollars. The more people they ask, the more money they get.
I’ve had the opportunity to get to know a homeless couple in the past year. What I’ve learned from listening to them has been an eye-opener.
Readers might be surprised to know that the two averaged about $40,000 a year in the two years they’ve been together. $80,000 in cash, with nothing to show for it!
Their passive approach, along with two cute dogs, had people handing them up to $300 day, yet both have been barred from H-E-B for shoplifting!
They’ve set up camp at three different locations on private property. They would take shopping carts from businesses to transport the dogs and leave the carts and their trash at another business. The next day, they’d do it all over again.
They’d spend a small fortune on lottery scratch-offs. Why not? They didn’t work for the money. I have pretty much washed my hands of them. They’ve done nothing to put their lives back in order. They figure if folks are willng to just give them money, why should they work?
I want readers to continue to help the homeless, but they must be willing to help themselves.
The Friends in Crisis shelter appears to be a great success. It was made possible by a Community Development Block Grant and city of Killeen funds. With more than 300 homeless persons estimated, the city could use a couple more shelters.
I don’t know if there are any vacant buildings suitable — nothing as fancy as the renovated church. The city owns numerous lots and the low cost of a metal building might be an option.
To ensure that all homeless have the basics, perhaps donations can be made to the shelter, instead of the individual, and a voucher will allow them to purchase necessities.
Let’s help those who want it. Let the police motivate the rest.