Report Tallies Number of Families Helped to Avoid Crisis Sheltering

Nov 23, 2016

A diversion program launched in Springfield to reduce homeless shelter dependence says it’s helped 33 families transition away from the option this year.

The Community Partnership’s Ozarks Alliance to End Homelessness (OAEH) issued a progress report Wednesday on the Shelter Diversion Program. It began in February following a recommendation from the Mayor’s Task Force on Crisis Sheltering. The goal was to divert families with low barriers away from the shelter system, allowing space at the shelters those who needed more intensive services.   

A temporary homeless camp.
Credit One Door, Community Partnership of the Ozarks

Community Foundation of the Ozarks along with the Musgrave Foundation provided funding to pilot shelter division through the One Door program with the final recommendation to hire three full time staff to meet the increasing need.

During the pilot period, nine families were provided with permanent housing and 33 families with 72 total children received assistance with shelter diversion practices. Help came by way of short term hotel/motel vouchers, rent deposit insurance, grocery assistance, gas vouchers, bus tickets, state identification and moving expense coverage.

The report says the city of Springfield will provide funding for one full time position in the FY 2017 budget.

In its report, the organization noted some of those individuals and the circumstances they were faced with. One person, referred to as Janie, was said to have three children and another on the way when she approached the Shelter Diversion Program.

According to CPO, Janie was able to be “stably housed through financial assistance as well as advocacy with the property management. She was also connected with the Bed Bath and Beyond re-store for assistance with household items.”

Another person, Tessa, had recently been laid off and staying in a weekly rental with her three children and husband. Over the course of two months, the Diversion Program “worked together to establish emergency shelter through hotel stays while she was able to save her income. She was then able to locate a stable residence and we assisted with the move-in costs for her and family.”

The program says it provides assistance and support to help make an episode of homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring. It advises those that are at risk of becoming homeless or currently without a safe, stable place to stay to call 417-225-7499 or visit the Springfield Affordable Housing Center located at 300 E. Central.

November is Homeless Awareness Month. On Nov. 30, OAEH invites community members to a showing of Randy Bacon’s film “The Road I Call Home.” It features local neighbors telling their own stories of homelessness and hope.

The event will be at Missouri State University’s Davis-Harrington Welcome Center at 1148 Bear Blvd. Doors open at 6:00 p.m., the film showing and a Facebook Live simulcast begin at 6:30.