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Buckner selects site for new single-parent housing project in Longview

By Richard Yeakley
Aug. 21, 2014 at 11 p.m.

Buckner International is eyeing land across from Ware Elementary School in South Longview for a new single-parent housing program.

A rezone request approved Tuesday by the Longview Planning and Zoning Commission shed light on a proposed new Buckner Family Transition Program. Officials confirmed in February the program was planned for Longview.

"Our client is looking to purchase this property and have multifamily use on the southern portion of the lots and, as part of that, would have an office building that would serve that particular multifamily community," said Travis Crafton of Longview architectural firm Johnson & Pace, who brought the request before the body.

In February, Scott Collins, the vice president of communications for Buckner International, said the organization was considering bringing the program, which is already operating in Amarillo, Conroe, Dallas, Houston, Lubbock, Lufkin and Midland, to the city.

The program is designed to help single parents by providing onsite childcare and offering families a safe place to live while letting the parent increase his or her education.

"We are hopeful," Collins said Thursday. "It would actually be a piece of property that we would use for the Family Place Program and our Family Hope Center."

The request to rezone the property, at High Street and Jewel Drive, is expected to go before the Longview City Council at an upcoming meeting.

Collins said details about the property - including size, schematics, cost and financing plan - then likely would be released in November but added the property would be cleared for a brand new facility.

"It is just a property that has worked out for us. We have looked at a lot of properties around town ... and this just seemed to be right. We just feel that this is a property that God opened up for us," he said. "We have made the decision if we are able to move forward with the project we want to build something new."

According to information on Buckner International's website, the family programs are housed in small complexes.

For instance, Midland's program operates with 16 units.

"The program varies depending on where it is, so we adapt it for the market. In Lufkin, for example, we have apartments where moms live with their children; we have an onsite day care. The mom gets to go to college and get a degree while the children are cared for, and they have a safe place to live," Collins said in February.

The Family Hope Center program helps at-risk youth and families in poverty by providing help that can include after-school tutoring, English as a second language, GED and computer classes, job skills training, parenting classes, healthcare services, distribution of aid and assistance and spiritual mentoring and education.

In Longview, Buckner offers Buckner Westminster Place, a retirement community and Buckner Children and Family Services, which helps with foster care and adoption, community programs, counseling services and crisis relief.

Last year Buckner served more than 9,993 people through foster and adoption programs, after school programing, parenting education training, Jobs for Life, Niños de Promesa and the Family Hope Center.

According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 34 percent of young children in Texas whose parents lack a college education live in poverty.

The new property would house the Family Transition Center and the Hope Program.

JoAnn Cole, senior director of campus and family ministries for Buckner Children and Family Services, said in an online post that breaking that cycle is the reason for the single-parent housing program.

"Our hope is that by bearing some of the burdens that make life incredibly difficult for single parents, and by facilitating parents' education and training, the family can then move forward to escape the cycle of poverty and live independently," she said.



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