Homeless Veteran Numbers Spike Locally, Despite National Numbers - kcentv.com - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

Homeless Veteran Numbers Spike Locally, Despite National Numbers Dropping

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(KCEN) – While the homeless veteran count is dropping nationwide, Killeen and Temple are seeing a spike in the number of homeless veterans – and it's not just individual veterans.

“We're seeing more homeless families, and we've seen an increase in that over the last few months because of the downsizing of the military,” Paula Wood said. “It's very sad to look a family in the eye and say do you have a friend or family member you can stay with because it's going to take a month to get you re-housed.”

Paula is the coordinator for the Central Texas VA Homeless Veterans Program and says since she started seven years ago, there's been a greater focus on helping our local homeless population. But even with $1 million in funding helping 5,400 veterans last year, she says more community support is needed.

“As soon as we get a vacancy we move a family in, but Killeen has just been inundated with an increase of homelessness. We desperate need shelters in place that can take in families in our area,” Paula said. “Resources in Killeen area are almost exhausted. The funding to prevent and re-house veterans is exhausted, and even the shelters and transitioning programs are all full.”

As a result, Paula says there are six local families that are currently homeless that are waiting to be re-housed.

The non-profit Families in Crisis is stepping up, hoping to help prevent this from happening again. They're currently in the process of getting approval from the city of Killeen to renovate an old church into a homeless shelter.

Located downtown, the building would house 70 a night, most of which are likely to be veterans.

“We will also do supportive services, case management and match them up with benefits they didn't know they could get or didn't know how to get,” Families in Crisis operations director William Hall said. “It will be a huge asset for this area.”

Hall says his organization alone has helped more than 400 area veterans from Bell and Coryell Counties through funding totaling about $1 million in the last year.

“For us we can help a veteran to up to five months of rental assistance, deposits, utility deposits, and be able to home that veteran,” he said.

The VA has a similar program with housing vouchers. Paula says the Central Texas VA that serves Waco, Bell County, and the Austin area has 655 supportive housing vouchers to hand out. More than 500 veterans have already been put into homes, while another 100 are trying to find housing that will accept the vouchers.

To find out more on how you can help the VA homeless program (click here)

To learn more about Families in Crisis or how to donate (click here).

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