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News covering policy and issues related to city and county governments in the Ozarks.

Update: Residents of Springfield Homeless Camp Slated to be Bulldozed Receive Help

Update June 7:  Homeless individuals in Springfield continue seeking services at the Multi-Agency Resource Center set up this week at Kearney and Glenstone.  The MARC is being operated there in ahead of the removal of a homeless camp in the 2000 block of E. Kearney.

Tuesday—the second day the MARC was open--54 more people were served by 4 p.m. with 26 of those from the Kearney St. camp.  That brings the total number of people served to 110.

Michelle Garand, deputy director of affordable housing and homelessness prevention at Community Partnership of the Ozarks is optimistic the services they’re providing are a pathway “to a real home.”

She appealed to landlords to take a chance of families with a less-than-stellar rental history.

According to Springfield city officials, at least one family with three children was located to a shelter Tuesday.

Homeless advocates and the Springfield Police Department are visiting other camps to connect with those who may have left the Kearney camp and offering to shuttle them to the MARC for services in an attempt to prevent other camps from forming or growing.

The MARC is open 7-11 a.m. and 2-6 p.m. through Friday at the Walmart at Kearney and Glenstone.

MARC Day 2 by the numbers:

  • 54 new intakes, 26 from the Kearney camp
  • 18 housing/shelter assessments by One Door and The Kitchen
  • 9 served by MSU Care
  • 14 served by family services, which includes Medicaid, food stamps, TANF and child care services
  • 2 served by Homeless/Mental Health Court
  • 7 Public Housing Authority applications
  • 15 served by Missouri Job Center-Ozarks Region
  • 7 served by Jordan Valley Community Health Center
  • 3 served by Burrell Behavioral Health
  • 2 served by VA
  • 11 animals assisted with vaccinations, flea medicine, wormer and food by PAWS Pet Pantry.
  • 46 breakfasts served by National Avenue Christian Church.

Update June 6:  When the Multi-Agency Resource Center closed for the day at 6 p.m. Monday, 56  homeless individuals were one step closer to permanent housing. As of 10 a.m., 28 individuals had received services at the Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC), with 21 of those coming from the camp on Kearney St. near Glenstone. As of 4 p.m., the number had grown to 56, with 30 coming from the Kearney Street camp, according to the City of Springfield.   

The Ozarks Alliance to End Homelessness considers day one of a multi-agency response to Springfield’s largest homeless camp a success, according to board member Jim O’Neal.

The combination of developing a MARC, followed by enforcement and cleanup efforts, is a new approach to ending homeless encampments in Springfield, he said. The MARC model has been successful in cities nationwide, according to Robert Pulster, regional coordinator for the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Springfield Police Department will follow up this week’s efforts to help residents of the camp with an enforcement of no trespassing violations on the land.  The city’s Building Development Services will clean up the property to help prevent repopulation.

The Springfield Police Department is maintaining a presence in the camp and at the MARC this week to ensure the safety of those both providing and receiving services, according to the city.

As the week progresses, outreach activities to other homeless camps and to panhandlers, continue.

Agencies providing assistance at the MARC include Jordan Valley Community Health Center, Mercy MSU Care Clinic, Springfield-Greene County Health Department, Burrell Behavioral Health Addiction Treatment Services, Convoy of Hope, Medicaid/food stamps, Springfield Homeless and Mental Health Courts, Missouri Job Center-Ozark Region, NAMI of Southwest Missouri, One Door, The Kitchen, crisis sheltering organizations, pet care and veterinary services and the Veterans Administration.

Food service and other basic needs are also being provided at the MARC thanks to Gathering Friends, Victory Mission, Convoy and National Avenue Christian Church.

Jennifer Cannon, founder of the Gathering Friends homeless outreach and advocacy group, said. “we’re seeing about half (of the homeless individuals) who are service-resistant and half who are truly ready to take the hand up,” Cannon said.

Shuttles and bus passes are being provided to area overnight shelters and to facilities of additional service providers in the attempt to stabilize the homeless individuals and guide them on a path toward self-sustainment.

About the Ozarks Alliance to End Homelessness

The OAEH is the community’s designated continuum of care, funded in large part by the United States Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). The alliance works to promote community-wide planning and strategic use of resources to address homelessness; improve coordination and integration with mainstream resources and other programs targeted to people experiencing homelessness.

MARC Day 1 by the numbers:

  • 56 total intakes, 30 from the Kearney camp
  • 29 housing/shelter assessments by One Door and The Kitchen
  • 25 served by MSU Care
  • 15 served by family services, which includes Medicaid, food stamps, TANF and child care services
  • 14 served by Homeless/Mental Health Court
  • 12 served by NAMI Southwest Missouri
  • 10 Public Housing Authority applications
  • 10 served by Missouri Job Center-Ozarks Region
  • 9 served by Jordan Valley Community Health Care
  • 5 served by Burrell Behavioral Health
  • 4 served by VA
  • 8 dogs, 2 cats,1 bird assisted with vaccinations, flea medicine, wormer and food by PAWS Pet Pantry. One dog was rehomed at the owner’s request.

Update June 5:  As of 11:15 a.m., 28 people had been served at the Multi-Agency Resource Center, 21 of which live at the nearby homeless camp.  Nine people had warrants cleared and court dates rescheduled.  Seven people had been screened for public housing at the MARC, two for Franciscan Villa, and 11 applied for food stamps.  According to Michelle Garand, homeless advocate with Community Partnership of the Ozarks, they've been able to provide some direct healthcare through MSU Care and Jordan Valley Community Health Center, and those people are now enrolled as patients, giving them a healthcare home.   Garand said, "this has been a larger success than I really anticipated."

Randy McCoy, director of housing programs at The Kitchen, Inc., said they're unsure how many people have been calling the homeless camp near Kearney and Glenstone home. Estimates range from a handful to around 100.  

Original Story:  A one-stop shop for services, the Multi-Agency Resource Center, has been set up in the Walmart parking lot at Glenstone and Kearney for those currently living in a nearby homeless camp. It’s being run by the Ozarks Alliance to End Homelessness, the City of Springfield and Community Partnership of the Ozarks along with 30 partner agencies.  The MARC will be open today through Friday (6/5-6/9) from 7 to 9 a.m. and 2 to 6 p.m.

A variety of services will be offered, including help with housing applications, food assistance, help finding jobs, bus passes, shuttle service to area service providers and health screenings.  The Community Emergency Response Team's Animal Response is also there to help homeless individuals who have pets. 

Jim O’Neal, a board member for the alliance, said, "we want to be sure that people who have animals as pets know that they're going to be treated humanely and that they can rejoin them at some time.  So we're trying to address that very personal issue of 'how are we going to deal with your pet?' because then many times that's their family."

O'Neal calls the homeless camping area on E. Kearney the largest such camp in Springfield and said they’re taking a “tough love” approach to move residents out this week.

According to O’Neal, the alliance began working with the city in a multi-agency team of service providers in April to develop an action plan for the homeless problem in the area.

He said the large volume of calls for service there prompted the discussion and the plan.

"Make no mistake.  While we think any response must address the barriers individuals face that keep them in homelessness, we are very aware of the serious problems these camps have caused for nearby businesses and residential neighborhoods," said O'Neal.

He describes this approach as “stepping outside our comfort zone.”

According to O’Neal, no trespassing signs “with legal, proper notice” have been posted on the homeless camp site.  At the beginning of next week, once the camp has been evacuated, he said they’ll go in, bulldoze the site and remove foliage “so you can see through the property.”  If people are still there afterwards and refuse to leave, according to O’Neal, they could be arrested. 

He said they’ll continue "to take decisive action across the community" after the camp is closed.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.