Springfield City Council to consider bill that would let the city apply for funding to end youth homelessness

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 3:57 AM CDT|Updated: May. 22, 2023 at 9:19 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Springfield City Council will consider a bill Monday night to allow the city to apply for funding to end youth homelessness.

The bill would allow the city to apply for a minimum of $600,000 to combat homelessness among 13 to 24-year-olds in Springfield and the surrounding area. That money would come from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and would be used in partnership with The Community Partnership of the Ozarks.

The application first has to be approved by City Council, according to Emily Fessler, Continuum of Care Organizer for Community Partnership of the Ozarks.

“Our city of Springfield is the lead applicant on that, and then they contract with Community Partnership of the Ozarks to fulfill the continuum of care duties,” said Fessler. “But we do have to get permission essentially from city council because the city is the lead applicant on the application. So city council does need to approve that we apply.”

If the bill passes and the city applies for the funding, this will be their seventh time to do so. The city has to compete with other municipalities across the country to get the funding. They’ve gotten close in the past to receive the funding, and are hoping that if the bill passes, this year they can get that money.

If the city receives the money, Community Partnership of the Ozarks plans to use it to fund its task force to end youth homelessness.

“So we have a homeless youth task force which brings together different advocates, youth service providers, homeless service providers,” said Fessler. “So we already have kind of a structure in place that we would be able to implement kind of a community plan through. So, what it would do essentially is essentially create a plan for how we can end homelessness.”

That plan would include several different aspects, including funding for not only housing but care for unhoused youth as well.

“It’s housing first, but also there’s also those supportive services that come along with that. So you’re talking about healthcare, education, employment, mental health, you know all of those different pieces that create kind of stabilization in a person’s life,” said Fessler.

Fessler says this funding is crucial and urges City Council to pass the bill to apply since youth homelessness is what she would consider a problem in Springfield. On just one night, they counted over 60 unhoused youth in the Springfield area. That only includes unhoused youth and not youth with unstable housing, something Fessler says is also a problem that could be addressed with extra funding.

“We have about 1,100 students that fall under that category that are unstably housed. and then when you count you know, doubled up situations, where our youth is with grandma today but maybe has to go by their aunt’s or uncle’s tomorrow or maybe they’re couch surfing between friends and family. I mean when you add all of that together we really do have a significant number of youth that really shouldn’t be in that position,” said Fessler.

If the city approves the bill to apply for funding and receives it, that money could be renewed each year. First, though, the city has to approve the bill to apply for the funding.

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