Central Texas Homeless Coalition

Central Texas Homeless Coalition

The Central Texas Homeless Coalition is celebrating its 20th anniversary and the party planning — as well as hopes of obtaining a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity designation — has begun.

“I believe it’s important that we recognize that there were individuals in our communities two decades ago who were concerned about the homeless and that work continues today,” said Ebony Jackson, coalition president and director of Bell County Indigent Health Services. “I think it’s phenomenal that the counties have collaborated for that long about this issue.”

The counties and area agencies have worked together on any number of efforts, including the Point In Time counts, health and social disparities and housing shortages, she said.

Those involved at the beginning were a resilient group who kept the coalition together, Jackson said.

The 501(c)3 status will enable the coalition to apply for more grants, Jackson said.

“We need help from people who have experience in applying for the tax designation,” she said. “We want to be able to fund the work of the coalition’s subcommittees.”

On April 18, the Central Texas Homeless Coalition will be hosting its 20th Anniversary Celebration and Dinner at the Frank W. Mayborn Civic and Convention Center in Temple.

The funds raised from the celebration will go toward current and future projects led by the Central Texas Homeless Coalition and community partners. These projects include the annual Point In Time count in which they count the sheltered and unsheltered homeless population. The Killeen Community Triage is an event to provide clients help with closing the gaps of social and health disparities such as stable housing, health/mental care, employment, VA support, user licenses for partnering agencies seeking to obtain the Homeless Management Information System, and other essential services.

Eric Samuels, president of the Texas Homeless Network, will be the keynote speaker at the gala.

“It’s important that we remain involved in the state network,” Jackson said.

Some of the proceeds from the event will fund items purchased for goody bags offered to the homeless who participate in the PIT count.

The Moss Rose Apartment project in Killeen will require access to funding to get the revitalization started.

There is also a need for funding for agencies to have access to Coordinated Entry.

Coordinated Entry is a powerful piece of a Housing Crisis Response System that ensures that people experiencing or are at-risk of homelessness can readily find and navigate crisis intervention assistance, according to the Texas Homeless Network. It is designed to ensure that households are prioritized for and matched with the right intervention as quickly as possible. It aims to standardize the access, assessment, and referral process across all providers in communities. There is a cost for access to the software, Homeless Management Information System, which is used to manage Coordinated Entry.

“We need those entry points throughout the county, but right now most of licenses are on the East Bell County side,” Jackson said. “We have to remember we are serving four counties, including Coryell, Lampasas and Hamilton counties.”

There will also be a silent auction at this event to assist with our fundraising efforts, she said. “We are requesting in-kind donations funding to assist covering event expenses, items and/services for the silent auction from local businesses and organizations,” she said.

Temple Mayor pro tem Judy Morales was around when the area homeless alliance got its start.

The HUD office in Dallas reached out to those in Bell County and beyond who worked with the homeless.

“We got organized and brought together the agencies throughout the county,” Morales said. “We connected with the Texas Homeless Network and started to participate in the national homeless survey.”

Central Texas Youth Services received funds for transitional housing and other agencies applied for funds to develop other programs, she said.

Homelessness will likely never go away, but there are many ways to serve this population.

There is a board that meets regularly that would like to establish a Community First type of village in Bell County, Morales said.

Community First is a 51-acre master planned village in Travis County that provides affordable permanent housing and a supportive community for men and women coming out of chronic homelessness.

“Timing is everything and I think it will eventually happen in Bell County,” she said.

Tickets for the event are $25 per person, or $150 for a table for eight.

For gala information, contact centraltexashomelesscoalition@gmail.com or call 254-618-4144.