Killeen: Community meeting held to address homeless concerns

KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) In effort to come up with a centralized solution to help Killeen’s homeless population, members of the community gathered Monday night.

Since the temporary closing of the Friends in Crisis shelter in May, the shelter’s front lawn has become a tent city.

At the Killeen Community Center, people from across the community came to share ideas on fundraising, job efforts and donations for the homeless.

A big topic of discussing was making a centralized schedule of food donations to cut on food going to waste when local organizations and people are donating on top of each other.

"We have a lot of organizations coming in there and I noticed a lot of duplication. You know, you have so much food so you have issue with waste. We're adding to the problem even though everybody is generous. So, I said lets coordinate our efforts so we can get more done,” said Lan Carter, organizer and meeting facilitator.

Those interested in dropping off food to the homeless are encouraged to visit the “Helping the Homeless” Facebook group.

Other topics included possibly open a new shelter nearby that would be a temporary fix until Friends in Crisis reopens. It could also house the homeless during daytime hours, but funding is still a concern.

A representative from Workforce Solutions of Central Texas was also at Monday’s meeting providing information on job opportunities for the homeless.

Also present at the meeting were some of the tent city residents. They talked about how their lives have changed over the near two months since the shelter's closing.

Joe Salinas says they are thankful for the donations that have come from across the area.

"We've been trying to deal with getting refuge and garbage and food that comes in, as well as sanitation,” Salinas said.

Some of items still in need include bug spray, ice and clean clothes -- with the rainy weather and summer heat.

Organizers are also hoping to get as many people to connect with the Facebook groups to see if money could be used for other things – instead of food -- such as paying a deposit on an apartment or first month's rent for a homeless family.

The shelter has said it needs $180,000 to reopen with more than $70,000 raised so far. Estimated costs to operate the shelter daily is around $1,000. Grant funding, if awarded won’t come until Oct. 1.

Shelter officials have asked the City of Killeen to assist with providing financial assistance.