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The Kitchen, Inc. Emphasizes Housing First

The Missouri Hotel
The Missouri Hotel (Credit: Michele Skalicky)

The cuts are part of a long-term strategic plan that The Kitchen, Inc. has been working on for a while, according to its CEO Rorie Orgeron.  He says several years ago The Kitchen’s staff and board of directors began talking about where they should take the organization in the future.  So, they began looking at programs it offered and deciding which ones best met The Kitchen’s mission.

Housing was ranked as a number one priority.  And during a board retreat last November, Orgeron says they looked at other programs and decided which ones to keep and which ones to eliminate.

"We found that Maggie's and Fresh Start, although they serve a lot of people, the impact that they have on the community is not as far reaching as what the impact is on housing,  Rare Breed with the youth and the medical clinic," he said.

The cuts will mean a loss of jobs for four part-time employees.

Maggie’s Boutique is open to the public.  Those in need are given clothing vouchers they can use at the thrift store.

Fresh Start provides household items for low income families and individuals.

Both programs are slated to close by the end of March.

According to Orgeron, they’ve talked to other non-profit organizations in Springfield to ensure services similar to those that Fresh Start offers, would be available elsewhere in the community.  He says Victory Mission offers a program where people in need can get clothing and other programs are in the works.

Related:  Victory Mission Reduces Staff; Closes Restaurant.

Orgeron says the cuts are part of The Kitchen’s efforts to be smarter with donated dollars and to concentrate the money where it will have the biggest impact.

This year, the organization began emphasizing Housing First and Rapid Re-Housing in the delivery of services to the homeless.

According to Orgeron, the Housing First model is the best practices model that’s been adopted in the U.S. He says It focuses on taking a person from homelessness into housing.

"That may mean out of a shelter or it may mean a person that's on the streets, living on the streets, and what the objective is is to get that person housed as quickly as possible," he said.

He says, in the past, the shelter system would look at problems that were keeping a person on the streets and required them to address those problems before they got help with permanent housing.  But he says that’s not always effective.

"Best practices have shown that if you take a person and house them first and not require that they stop drinking right away but continue to work with them that they cut back on their alcohol and drug consumption tremendously," he said.

And he says putting people with similar pressures together in a shelter often results in “a lot of stress and drama and trauma.”

The long-term goal, he says, is to not rely on the shelter model but to concentrate on getting people into permanent housing as quickly as possible.  He’s not sure how soon they’ll accomplish that.

The Kitchen broke ground last July on Beacon Village at 3902 W. Helen.  The development will offer 44 units of affordable housing for low-income families and individuals.

Orgeron says, while they’re changing the face of The Kitchen, Inc., the organization will be there for the long haul helping the community’s homeless.