Community Focus Report highlights needs in areas of poverty, housing costs

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The Community Foundation of the Ozarks in partnership with the Junior League released the community's most pressing red flags.

The Community Foundation of the Ozarks releases the Community Focus Report every other year for the city of Springfield. Committees met for months to put it together, looking at a wide variety of issues in the community.

Some issues get blue ribbons for success. They include investing in education, re-development in the downtown area, and a low unemployment rate.

Some of the red flags include poverty and housing costs. The report found that more than half of those who rent are spending more than 30% of their income on housing. It also notes our median annual wage is lower in this area than St Louis and Kansas City. And the cost of living is not enough to make up for it. The report found significant achievement gaps for students of color and low-income. The report put diversity in the spotlight. The region has grown more diverse over the last 15 years, but there is plenty of room for improvement and embracing diversity. The report claims mental health and dental healthcare as red flags, but the report also highlights ongoing efforts to increase awareness and treatment access. And though crime statistics dropped a little last year for the first time in many years, the number of drug seizures increased.

The report also highlighted child abuse and neglect. The number of kids in foster care is the highest since 2014.

"And that's a consistent red flag that the community has been trying to deal with," said Jonathan Groves, Community Focus Report facilitator. "We've directed resources at it, in a lot of ways to that over the years. And some of those programs have worked very well. But it still remains a persistent issue."

Click HERE to read the entire Community Focus Report.