Springfield chapter of NAACP creates economic justice task force to help homeless community

Published: Nov. 15, 2020 at 9:23 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Springfield chapter of the NAACP is creating a task force aimed at helping the area’s homeless.

Co-chair Tracey Wolff says the task force will advocate for justice and change within the community in areas related to poverty and homelessness.

“You can’t drive anywhere in Springfield and not notice people, and at some point you gotta quit driving by, right? I think there’s just those of us who care and want to do something about it," Wolff says. "We don’t wanna study the issue. We don’t wanna do anything like that. We wanna do something.”

The task force is made up of faith leaders, community advocates and people who work directly with members of the homeless community, like Katie Kring, who runs the Springfield Street Choir.

“The homeless people in our community are Springfieldians, they’re constituents of city council and they matter," Kring says.

Wolff says they’re looking to make a direct impact on the lives of people living on the streets.

The task force has eleven objectives, including things like housing and healthcare for the homeless community. Wolff says the main goal is offering tangible results.

“There’s so many things, so many different things that intersect in the life of a person who is homeless," Wolff says. "How can we get resources to them, help them navigate life and then help them in whatever way they need help.”

One of the areas the task force hopes to target is shelters. Kring says, because of the pandemic, the capacity of shelters has been cut in half. She says Springfield has about 650 homeless people, but there are only enough shelter beds for 65 of them.

“There is not a family shelter," Kring says. "If your family becomes homeless, then you’re gonna have to split up. The kid might be able to go to Isabel’s house if they still have room. Mom might be able to go to Grace United Methodist overnight and dad is not on the One Door list so dad is gonna be outside all winter.”

Kring says if someone hasn’t already signed up to be on the One Door shelter list for this year, it’s too late. She says if Springfield’s anti-camping ordinance was lifted, it would make a big difference.

“If we can’t keep people warm, we at least need to keep them dry," Kring says. "A tarp and a pallet lean-to is not going to hold up in driving rain or whatever and a tent will.”

The task force is a year-long collaborative effort.

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