The Mayor’s Task Force on Crisis Sheltering, formed last fall, has presented its recommendations to Springfield City Council.
Among them: using shelter diversion to reduce the need for crisis sheltering. It’s a strategy that prevents homelessness for people seeking shelter, in part, by helping them to identify immediate alternate housing arrangements.
Examples of shelter diversion, according to the task force, include help with utility and rent deposits, obtaining state ID cards and birth certificates and help with transportation.
According to its report, “the task force believes that emphasizing diversion strategies and applying resources ‘upstream’ will result in fewer families becoming homeless and needing emergency sheltering.”
Another recommendation is to increase community awareness about the issue of homelessness and the need for more community support for homeless families.
The third recommendation is to increase awareness and support for the efforts of the local Continuum of Care. In its report the task force says the Community Partnership of the Ozarks’ One Door Program is key to ensuring that homeless families receive immediate assessment and connection to all the critical resources and services available in our community. The task force recommends a new facility for that program, which works to prevent and end homelessness through coordination of resources.
The task force says one new assessment specialist and two new diversion specialist positions are needed to meet the need for increased case management for homeless families and to implement a diversion program.
The task force says its overall goal regarding crisis sheltering in the Springfield area is that, by 2018, zero families seeking emergency shelter will be turned away from One Door without diversion assistance or emergency shelter assistance.