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Kitchen Says Feb. 27 Missouri Hotel Closing Paves Way for More Permanent Housing

The Kitchen, Inc. says it’s transitioning to a newer model to house citizens in need, which is why on Feb. 27 it will close the Missouri Hotel.

Joyce.jpg
Credit Scott Harvey / KSMJ
Joyce Jewell lived at the Missouri Hotel for one year with her two grandchildren. Now she resides in the KIND Place, which will soon transition to the Kitchen's new emergency housing service. Within the month, Jewell and her family will move to permanent housing at Beacon Village.

The announcement came at a press conference Wednesday morning. The Missouri Hotel has served those in need since the 1980s. For the past two years, there has been an average of 50 individuals in emergency shelter nightly at the hotel.

Stephanie Ireland, president of the board for the Kitchen, Inc. said it is excited to close the facility in favor of better, more cost-efficient and effective solutions to end homelessness.

“We will continue to provide that same number of emergency shelter beds after the Missouri Hotel closes,” Ireland says. 

The Kitchen will now offer emergency shelter in apartments at KIND Place and the Ollis Building, which offer rooms that are three times the size of a room at the Missouri Hotel, and in turn offer more comfortable spaces for families. It’s part of an expansion of the Housing First and Rapid Re-housing programs.

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Credit Scott Harvey / KSMU
A bathroom inside the KIND Place, limited to that particular unit.

Support services, including medical and dental care at The Kitchen Medical Clinic, youth services at Rare Breed Youth Outreach Center, and others, will continue.

“I was living in a one-bedroom here but we’ve moved into three-bedroom and it’s still located on the property – it’s behind the Missouri Hotel here.”

That’s Joyce Jewell, who moved into the Missouri Hotel in October 2013 with her 11- and 10-year-old grandchildren. Just over a year ago, she was unable to afford her electricity payments while living in a Collins, Missouri trailer home. As the winter season approached, she applied for residency within the hotel, and was accepted three days later. Today, she’s preparing to move into a more permanent structure.

“They’re moving me to Beacon Village, the new place on the other side of West Bypass, and we’re looking forward to it, I mean we really are,” Jewell said.

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Credit Scott Harvey / KSMU
Some bathrooms at the Missouri Hotel are shared between units and families.

Moving away from transitional and emergency housing at the Missouri Hotel toward more permanent affordable housing throughout the community aims to shorten the amount of time people remain in emergency shelter.

The Housing First and Rapid Re-housing programs have proven successful at reducing the amount of time people experience homelessness and have better long-term outcomes, according to Director of Housing Randy McCoy. He says after the first year of the Housing First program, 39 of the 42 individuals served are still in housing.

“Some of the quantifiable things that we measure are - for those 39 individuals, in the three months, just three months prior to housing they accounted for 60 emergency room visits in Springfield. In the year since they were housed, they accounted for 16 emergency visits,” McCoy says.

McCoy adds that jail time and police calls are being reduced, and almost a third of residents are paying all or a portion of their rent now.

“These are people who for years were on the streets, staying in cold weather shelters, emergency overnight shelters, eating at soup kitchens, who are now in their house successfully managing the lease that they are under and paying all or a portion of their rent.”

The Kitchen says the cost of homelessness equates to $32,000 per year on average for each unsheltered homeless person. For those receiving housing and support services, it’s about one-fourth of that. In 2015, the Kitchen estimates it will service roughly 650 people.

For Joyce Jewell, she’ll miss the hotel, but is glad her former hall mates will have a better opportunity to get into permanent housing.

“Because a lot of these [people] that are here do need their own places and I think it will better them and make them grow more within themselves as well as the community,” Jewell said. 

Kitchen CEO Rorie Orgeron says there are no immediate purchase or renovations plans for the Missouri Hotel, which will be put on the market in the near future.

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