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

Solutions For Shelter Summit To Focus On Ways To Help Springfield's Homeless Stay Warm This Winter

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With temperatures forecast in the 90s this weekend, winter seems far away.  But those who provide services to Springfield’s homeless are working to make sure when cold weather arrives, individuals will have a warm place to stay overnight.

The City of Springfield and Community Partnership of the Ozarks are hosting a virtual Solutions for Shelter Summit series starting Thursday, September 9.

Adam Bodendieck, director of homeless services at Community Partnership, hopes the series will create a wider conversation about the issue and result in new partners and new ideas for sheltering the homeless this winter.

"Our current partners are at capacity," said Bodendieck.  "They are all doing everything they possibly can, so if we're going to be able to meet the need and hit the goals that we've set, we're going to need additional help."

Critical needs for sheltering homeless individuals this winter, Bodendieck said, are additional shelter spaces, volunteers, financial and in-kind donations and transportation.

The City of Springfield Declaration of Economic and Housing Calamity ordinance allows businesses, churches or other organizations to help address the needs of the homeless by hosting additional overnight emergency shelter beds in their buildings, according to the Community Foundation in a news release.

Bodendieck said they've been stocking up for the past few months on hand warmers, toe warmers, coats, hats, gloves and other items to help homeless individuals stay warm this winter.

"We want to be able to provide whatever we can for folks to try to increase their chances over the winter months of making it through without too many health considerations," he said.

A huge need is volunteers to staff emergency shelters and to help in other ways.  They would like to expand the parameters for when shelters may open, such as offering shelter when temperatures are above 32 degrees, "but, obviously, if that's going to happen," he said, "we're going to need to have not only spaces that can accommodate that and a large enough network that we can accommodate that, but also have enough volunteers to make that happen."

Thursday’s session of the Solutions for Shelter Summit series will start at noon, and sessions are also set for September 14th and 16th.  Anyone is invited to join the discussion.  An in-person option is available for those without internet access.  Registration is required.  Call Community Partnership of the Ozarks at 417-888-2020 or register here.

Bodendieck encourages anyone who wants to find out how they can help the homeless this winter to reach out to Community Partnership .  More information about the needs of the area's homeless in winter and ways the public can help can be found at cpozarks.org/coldweather.