KILLEEN, Texas — Thanks to $90,000 in community donations, the Friends in Crisis homeless shelter is preparing to reopen by early August.
The people who have been living in tents in front of the shelter for months after it shut down may soon get to go back inside, but there's a catch.
The tent city residents staying there now will have to move off the property by Monday or risk being arrested. Shelter board members notified them of the requirement earlier this week, leaving many people scrambling again to find a new place to rest their heads.
"It's kind of sad because everyone has no place to go," Isiah Young, who has been staying in the tent city said. "We're just looking for a place to go so we son't have to worry about being arrested or harassed by the others."
The board said while they are eager to start serving the displaced again, they need time to clean up the space in front so everything can be up to code for day one.
Board members said the project will take weeks and multiple workers to complete.
"We don't want any kind of illness staying in there. We don't know how long bacteria might stay," Larry Moehnke, the Families in Crisis board vice president, said. "We have a situation where we have feces and urine and all those kinds of things. So we need to make sure that we have done everything to keep our clients safe."
Those who are being displaced by the project say they have their doubts about the extended work timeline.
In the meantime, some community members are offering housing solutions.
Gary Smiley said he often cooks for the tent city residents and has a property that can house the group for a few weeks until the shelter re-opens if need be.
"A little push in the right direction can be great for a lot of them," Smiley said. "I'm thinking now is my time to be here... doing the right things."
Thanks to community donations, community members like Christy Liles are willing to pay for a camp site at Dana Peak park for others in the group.
"If [community members] just take a few hours of their time-- a few minutes each day-- to come stop by, bring some water, bring some ice and just get to know them, it changes things and puts them in a different perspective," Liles said.
While the people affected by the move are not sure what the future holds or when they will be back in the shelter, they said they can rest easier knowing they have allies in the community to help them out until a solution comes.
"We're here," Young said. "The good Lord has put our feet on the ground this morning. He led me to come out here and be with you today."
Organizers are asking for volunteers who can offer transportation for the residents who need to go to work, medical appointments or one of the housing options.
Anyone looking to help with transportation or any other needs can call Smiley at 254-200-1022 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.