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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE The 17-member Mayor’s Task Force on Crisis Sheltering presented its recommendations to Mayor Bob Stephens and members of City Council at today’s Council Lunch. Mayor Stephens announced the formation of the task force last fall. He described the number of people in need of immediate shelter in Springfield as “mind boggling,” and said the lack of crisis shelter facilities has reached a crisis level. Long-time philanthropist and community leader Charlie O’Reilly and business owner Lynn Thompson co-chaired the task force, which was charged with recommending to the Mayor within 60 days of its first meeting a plan of action to (a) provide additional crisis shelter units for families and/or (b) reduce the number of families placed in this crisis situation with a goal of meeting the current need. For the purposes of the task force, crisis sheltering was defined as overnight shelter for 30 days or less. Based upon the best practice and national trend information, information shared in presentations and several brainstorming sessions, the Mayor’s Task Force on Crisis Sheltering made the following recommendations to address the crisis sheltering issue in Springfield. Recommendation No. 1
Reduce the need for crisis sheltering through shelter diversion, a strategy that prevents homelessness for people otherwise seeking shelter by helping them identify immediate alternate housing arrangements and by providing individualized support and financial assistance to help them maintain or return to permanent housing. Shelter diversion reduces the number of families becoming homeless, the demand for limited shelter beds, and the waiting lists for current shelter programs. For the Springfield community, shelter diversion examples can include limited financial assistance for utility and/or rental deposits, moving expenses or short-term storage (30 days or less), state ID cards, birth certificates, and transportation; hotel/motel vouchers for short term assistance; conflict resolution and mediation with landlord, friends and/or family; connection to mainstream resources; and housing search assistance. 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. The community’s return on investment (ROI) will be greater by providing “diversion” assistance to keep families in their existing homes versus covering the expenses of emergency sheltering. This approach is both more humane and makes more business sense.” Recommendation No. 2
Increase community awareness about the issue and the need for more community support for homeless families. Recommendation No. 3
Increase awareness and support for the efforts of the local Continuum of Care. In its report, the task force noted: • As the initial point of entry, the 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.
• Communities with a diversion program across the country are experiencing diversion success rates between 30-50% for families.
• Diversion is more cost effective than increasing shelter beds/units or building a new shelter. • One new Assessment Specialist and two new Diversion Specialist positions are necessary to meet the need for increased case management for homeless families and to implement a diversion program.
• One Door will soon need a new facility; the facility they are temporarily occupying is not suitable for long-term use and will be demolished soon.
• One Door will recruit a volunteer “Triage Team” that will assist staff in performing initial assessments of families in need.
The task force stated that 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. In support of this goal, the task force has established the following dashboard of performance measures: • The number of families (duplicated and unduplicated counts) coming to One Door seeking emergency sheltering will be reported annually to Springfield City Council.
• By January 2017, One Door will have hired three additional full-time staff to implement diversion and case management programs.
• By January 2018, recidivism will be reduced by 15% from the 2015 baseline.
• By January 2018, diversions will be increased by 30% over the 2015 baseline.
• By January 2018, demand for emergency sheltering will be reduced by 20% below the 2015 baseline.
• By January 2018, community awareness about the crisis sheltering need will increase by 15% over the 2016 baseline.
• By January 2018, community financial support for emergency shelters and One Door will increase by 20% over the 2015 baseline.
• By January 2018, the number of Project Share donors will increase by 15% and the Project Share donations will increase by 20% over the 2015 baseline.
• By January 2018, a common Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) will be in use by all homeless service providers and their partners.
Task force members also requested that Mayor Stephens extend their responsibilities for one year so they can reconvene in December to review and evaluate the progress of their recommended actions and develop and finalize a one-year performance report. Members of the Mayor’s Task Force on Crisis Sheltering are: • Rev. T.J. Appleby, Sanctuary of Praise
• Rob Baird, Conco
• Rev. Ken Chumbley, Christ Episcopal Church
• Janet Dankert, Community Partnership of the Ozarks
• Andrew Garton, The Network
• Chris Huff, Convoy of Hope
• David Jayne, Central Assembly
• Russ Marquart, Central Bank of the Ozarks
• Weston McConnell, Community Member
• Debi Meeds, United Way of the Ozarks
• Marty Moore, Springfield Public Schools
• Ruscell Pavlin, Community Member
• Mary Kay Ross, Community Member
• Don Simpson, Missouri State University
• Mike White, Mayor’s Commission on Children
• Charlie O’Reilly, O’Reilly Automotive (Co-Chair)
• Lynn Thompson, Thompson Buick GMC Cadillac (Co-Chair). # # # For more information, contact: Cora Scott, Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement, 417-864-1009 (office) | 417-380-3352 (cell), [email protected]