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Shelter SGF: New smartphone app connects people in need to wintertime shelter, other resources

A screenshot from the Shelter SGF mobile app on Nov. 15, 2022 shows a daily update about cold-weather shelters in Springfield.
A screenshot from the Shelter SGF mobile app on Nov. 15, 2022 shows a daily update about cold-weather shelters in Springfield.

The Connecting Grounds church created a free app for people to find Springfield-area homeless shelters, food banks and other community resources.

As temperatures drop, people experiencing homelessness in Springfield can now download a free app to find shelters, food banks and other resources.

The app, called Shelter SGF, is new this year.

Christie Love, pastor of The Connecting Grounds church, which serves Springfield-area unsheltered people, said the idea for Shelter SGF has been a long time coming.

“We just noticed a massive gap in communication in our community for individuals that need to know about resources and also need to know life-saving information in a critical, time-efficient kind of manner regarding cold-weather shelters," said Love in an interview with KSMU.

Cold-weather shelters in Springfield are only open if temperatures are under 32 degrees for more than four hours between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. This criterion is set by the Ozarks Alliance to End Homelessness, the community's official Continuum of Care recognized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

There is a live chat function in the app that messages to The Connecting Grounds' outreach team. It can be used for any question about resources in Springfield.

For example, Love said one person used the app to ask about grocery delivery to a hotel during a COVID quarantine.

The app also has daily notifications with information on whether crisis shelters are open, transportation to shelters and community dinners.

Love said Shelter SGF is not just for homeless residents. The app has information about food banks, transportation services, mental health aid and more.

“You know, it's really for everyone in the community," Love said. "My hope is that law enforcement officers will download this app," she said. "If they are engaging with someone at one or two o'clock in the morning, they can say, ‘Hey. Here are the shelters that are open tonight.'”

She also encourages paramedics, health workers and regular citizens to download the app.

In the future, the app will have a live bed tracker to show availability of shelters. Until then, Love manually updates shelter availability.

“The hope is between the notifications, the constant source of info we are really going to make some great strides in our community in terms of communication. And getting voices heard that need to be heard," Love said.

The app is available for download on Apple and Android devices.

If you don’t have a mobile phone, you can apply for a government-issued one, with help from The Connecting Grounds Community Outreach Center at 3000 West Chestnut Expressway.

Meghan McKinney is an undergraduate journalism student at Missouri State University. She works as a news reporter and announcer for KSMU. Her passions, other than journalism, are psychology, music, sign languages and dancing. She also runs a local music page on Facebook called "SGF Playlist."