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City of Springfield approves $2 million request for homeless assistance; leaders express worries about housing locations

Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 3:01 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 13, 2021 at 6:20 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Members of the Springfield City Council approved a request to apply for $2 million of CARES Act relief funding and a community development block grant to further aid homelessness in the area.

The money brings more housing opportunities and resources as the community pushes for help to tackle homelessness. The city is currently taking proposal applications until August 18 for shelter locations.

To submit a proposal you must meet multiple requirements which can be found here.

In a 2020 survey, Springfield citizens identified homeless services, transitional housing and homeless shelters as top priorities among the public service categories as part of the public input process for the city’s five year consolidated plan. The application was approved in an 8-1 vote with only councilwoman Angela Romaine opposing during the city council meeting.

“I would rather have a more concrete plan than just we will see when we get kind of a deal,” said Romine. “My concern is we will never get to it and it will create an issue in our town.”

During the council meeting, concerns were brought up addressing the location of the proposed shelters because previously when placed next to businesses and residential homes it caused major issues according to Councilman Richard Ollis.

“I had a business on Commercial Street in the 70′s, my family did with the homeless shelters on that street,” said Councilman Ollis. “We need to be very purposeful that we do not create any issues in neighborhoods or businesses. I agree with have an issue and I support that but that being said the details and purpose of how we use this money is exceptionally important.”

Councilman Craig Hosmer brought up how he suggests the money should also be used towards services to stop the homelessness cycle and focus on mental health.

“We need to make sure a certain percentage is used for services in mental health and substance abuse problems,” said Councilman Hosmer. “We will never be able to house our way out of the problem. I am all for helping people but we need to make sure we stop this cycle and provide services. It’s a losing effort and I think we are falling behind.”

Councilman Andrew Lear shared his intentions of providing more services.

“The two biggest barriers and lacking is appropriate housing and mental health services and the access to those services,” said Councilman Lear. “Housing First is certainly a model that can work and we need to employ, but housing without the support system and services will continue the problem and push it down the road a bit. In my point of view, we have to be able to have enough services to go with that and getting people off the street is critical to their success.”

The city plans on submitting the application no later than August 31. If you have any questions about submitting a proposal or about the plan, you should contact Bob Atchley, 417-864-1308 or batchley@springfieldmo.gov.

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