Uniting both Cove House and the Fort Hood Habitat for Humanity, a “Homeless to Housed” program proposed in Killeen last week seeks to rehabilitate homeless individuals by providing a safe, stable environment for its clients to flourish through a scaling housing program.
Presented at last Tuesday’s Killeen City Council workshop meeting by representatives from the Fort Hood Habitat for Humanity and Cove House, the program has been made possible through Home Investment Partnerships Program American Rescue Plan (HOME-ARP) funding.
To date, the Killeen City Council officially voted to set aside approximately $500,000 for a homelessness relief program; in response, Bell County has pledged an additional $600,000, with the condition that Killeen match that same funding.
The next step is for Killeen to replat the approximate 2.94 acres adjacent to the Fort Hood Habitat for Humanity property which is on Atkinson Avenue in Killeen — effectively carving out a flood plain that runs through the middle — and gift it to Cove House, which is the designated director for this program.
Once replatted and gifted, the program directors can begin preliminary development using money from the city.
The program in practice
The project is a multi-stage housing assistance program; according to the directors, clients start in a small, 200 square foot unit before graduating to larger and larger units as they demonstrate success and fiscal responsibility. Each unit has a restroom, a kitchen, and an area to sleep and to fill out paperwork, which is an important aspect of the program, according to Ken Cates, CEO of the Fort Hood Habitat for Humanity.
“That’s the biggest part of this: it’s non-congregate, they have their own security, and their own place to stay and graduate to the next level,” Cates said.
Cates explained that clients will be received via a referral program, finding their way through Habitat for Humanity or another non-profit organization.
Brian Hawkins, the Executive Director of Cove House, explained that the program is a long-term investment for its clients that takes longer than just a few weeks.
“The question I always hear is, ‘well, how long can I stay here?’” he said. “We’re going to partner with them as long as it takes to get them into permanent housing, provided that they are moving forward, following the rules and regulations that we set forth to be on the property, and they’re meeting their savings goals and milestones and things like that.”
According to Hawkins, the current program at Cove House often sees individuals graduate within 12 months; this program may extend out to 24 months.
“If you’ve gotta pay off evictions, if you’ve gotta pay of credits cards, if you’ve gotta pay off some kind of debt, you’re gonna need the time in a lower income area to pay that off,” he said. “But part of staying in the program is verifying that you’re doing that.”
Additionally, the program seeks to end the “revolving door of the prison system,” by providing “jail diversion opportunities.”
Of the $1 million budget, a total of around $617,000 has been set aside for 31 housing units. Of those units, eight will be 200 square feet, another eight will be 240 square feet, and the last 15 will be 336 square feet.
The development will also include a community center, which will cost roughly $210,000; infrastructure will eat up the remaining roughly $160,000.
Additionally, two personnel would be employed at $14 an hour for the first year.
According to Cates, the project will generate the necessary funds to continue operation after the first year startup cost.
Mayor Pro Tem Debbie Nash-King made a motion of direction to have staff replat the land as necessary and to prepare a land-donation agreement to the joint project, which passed unanimously.
The last step is for City Council to review the agreement and replatting designs when they are brought back to an official City Council meeting.