Cove House celebrates newest tenant of transitional housing program
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Kristen Ball’s Christmas present didn’t come on Christmas Day, nor did it have a bow.
However, it did have a ribbon and last Thursday morning, she cut the ribbon to her new apartment in Cove House’s transitional housing unit.
When Ball and her two children, nine-year-old Daniel and four-year-old Krista, came to Copperas Cove about seven months ago from Florida, she had hoped it would be a fresh start. Separated from her husband, she did find a job in town, but then also found herself living out of her car—more than once.
The three have been in Cove House for several months and this week, the three will officially move into a freshly renovated, two-bedroom apartment.
On Thursday morning, the Ball family, along with Cove House director Brian Hawkins, Cove House board member and Killeen-Heights Rotary Club member Bob Crouch, and Morning Exchange Club member Clarence Enochs, did a walk-through of the apartment prior to the ribbon cutting.
Ball elaborated a bit about the circumstances that led them to Cove House. Her husband had lost his job, then she lost her job.
“It’s a lot harder in Florida,” Ball said, so she ended up moving with her children to Texas to live with one of her husband’s family members, but things didn’t improve and she ended up living in her car again, and that’s when she and her children came to live in Cove House.
“A lot of areas and communities don’t have services like this. Florida does (have services), but nothing like this. They are above and beyond helpful, and everything I needed they have provided. It’s a good program, and it’s amazing.”
Both Crouch and Enochs were among the volunteers who recently spent approximately 500 hours performing repairs to the apartment.
Crouch said it initially began as a club project, but became personal after that. He and his wife, along with Enochs and about five to six others, completed the work over the past several months.
Hawkins said the apartment had been empty for about a year until the local volunteers stepped up to make repairs, and more. Crouch talked about how it all came about.
Crouch said originally the groups laid new vinyl tile in an apartment upstairs, and initially they were going to just rip out the carpet in the downstairs apartment. However, in looking at the apartment, it was clear more needed to be done.
Crouch said the Morning Exchange Club donated materials to replace the flooring, baseboards and kitchen counter, with a local contractor volunteering his time and skill to install it all. Then, Crouch and the rest of the volunteers repaired holes in the walls and gave all of the rooms a fresh coat of paint.
“We’d like this to be an opportunity for other service organizations or even businesses in town, to adopt one of the eight apartments here in the building, and when a resident moves out, that if any upkeep needs to be done, either they do painting or minor repairs or pay someone to do it, for long-term sustainment.”
Enochs echoed Crouch’s idea.
“It’s not a Rotary thing, it’s not an Exchange thing, but it’s more of a community thing,” said Enochs. “What we want is for it to be a community thing where groups ultimately can sponsor an apartment and sponsor the upkeep and the materials, for furniture, to help it be more personal.” He challenged other groups in the community to step up.
Hawkins talked about the idea behind the transitional housing program.
“Our whole mindset here is for them to come in here and see there is a light at the end of the tunnel. They can live in a decent place and have nice appliances and feel like there is an opportunity to move forward. We don’t want this to be just barely better than being on the street.
“We want them to have the pride of ownership. To feel that, ‘No matter what happened to me in the past, I can live in a nice place with my family.”
Tenants in Cove House’s transitional housing are required to have jobs and pay a reduced rate rent, the amount of which depends on each tenant’s particular situation. The length of time spent in transitional housing also depends on a tenant’s individual situation, but the idea is to have them out in their own in less than a year.
Ball is ready to move on with her fresh start at the apartment.
“I love it; it’s a new beginning. They did a wonderful job. Everything looks great—the floors, the paint, everything. Like I said, it’s a new beginning for me and my kids. I really do appreciate everything everyone has done.”
Ball said she is looking forward to not just renting her own place, but to someday down the road purchase a home of her own.