Volunteers would work with Arbor of Hope to help reduce homelessness in Bell County
KILLEEN, Texas (June 2, 2023) – The City of Killeen is looking for volunteer board members for the new Arbor of Hope nonprofit organization, which will be an independent entity that leads the Bell County coordination and management of all homeless services working with the homeless population.
Arbor of Hope will operate on a county-wide level, with bases of operation in Killeen and Temple (Arbor of Hope West and East). The purpose is to provide transitional housing for the temporary and long-term homeless community. The goal is to have a wide range of services provided on site by multiple agencies.
Rashawn Smith is the Community Development Administrator and she, along with other staff members, have been working on initiatives to help the homeless community for several years. “The City of Killeen has made it a priority to reduce and end homelessness not only in our city, but our county and region,” she said. “This targeted effort kicked off more than a year ago and we’ve made significant progress to get to this point. We’re excited to be working with Temple and community partners to tackle this issue head on.”
Board members would need to be passionate and very involved as they work to prevent, divert and dramatically reduce homelessness in the county.
Interested applicants can apply at www.KilleenTexas.gov/EndHomelessness between June 2 and June 18. Citizens can email EndHomelessness@KilleenTexas.gov for more information. The City will have no governing authority over this board, as with the Killeen Housing Authority—only this initial appointment.
Both campuses of Arbor of Hope will include a transformational center for up to 100 people. The Transformational Center will provide an alternate setting for clients while they work on the underlying causes of why they’re experiencing homelessness and move toward permanent housing solutions.
Some on-site features include a dining and food service area, community garden space, health care triage, coordination with service partners for individuals who suffer from mental health and substance abuse, space to help create job opportunities and more. Pets are also welcome.
In 2022, the City of Killeen partnered with the City of Temple to work with a consultant on appropriately addressing homelessness in Bell County.
Dr. Robert Marbut, Jr. gathered statistics on those experiencing homelessness in our area, conducted focus groups and surveys, engaged with local and regional agencies and stakeholders, before presenting the Homeless and Mental Strategic Plan.
In September 2022, he addressed the five strategic keys to successfully manage and reduce homelessness, as well as five cohorts of homeless groups in Bell County and key data observations.
A final plan was presented to the public and council, as well as adopted in February 2023. Arbor of Hope West is targeted to open mid to late 2024.
“The goal is to find housing for every unsheltered homeless person who choses assistance – that ‘homelessness’ will be a rare, brief, and one-time occurrence,” Smith said.