SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Springfield city leaders want to hear from the community about how to use federal assistance to help those struggling with homelessness.

Members of the Citizens Advisory Committee for Community Development are holding a public hearing about Springfield’s Draft Allocation Plan for the HOME-American Rescue Plan on Tuesday, May 24. The HOME-ARP is a federal program that aims to help people or families who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless. The program also helps people who are trying to get away from domestic violence.

How big is the need?

The Needs Assessment and Gap Analysis examines the size and composition of qualifying populations, identifies current resources available, assesses unmet housing and service needs of these populations, and calls attention to existing gaps.

During the consultation process, City Planning and Development Department asked volunteers and workers at local organizations that help the homeless to rate and rank what they felt were the primary gaps within the Springfield community. People rated affordable rental housing as being the largest gap within the community, followed by Non-Congregate Shelter, supportive services, non-profit operating, and capacity building assistance.

To assess the needs of HOME-ARP the City Planning and Development staff examined the size and demographic composition of those populations.

How many people are homeless in Springfield?

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines the homeless as an individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.

Each year HUD conducts a census of the number of people experiencing homelessness on a single night in January. This is called the Point-in-Time (PIT) count. Based on the comparison of PIT count numbers for the Springfield/Greene, Christian, and Webster Counties for 2016 through 2021 the total number of homeless individuals has increased from 496 in 2016 to 583 in 2021. However, the PIT data also indicates that the number of unsheltered homeless individuals decreased over the 6-year period of time.

PIT also determined that:

  • 517 individuals were staying in an emergency shelter.
  • 66 individuals were unsheltered
  • 26 veterans were homeless
  • 77 families with children were homeless
  • 158 children were homeless
  • 30 youth were homeless.

At Risk for Homelessness

HUD defines those at risk of homelessness as individuals and families who have an income below 30% of the area median income; (AMI), and do not have sufficient resources or support networks to prevent them from becoming homeless and living with instability.

According to HUD’s 2014-2018 Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS) data, Springfield has 13,060 households with incomes at or below 30% of AMI, which is 17.7% of all Springfield households. According to the report, nearly 80% of households with incomes at or below 30% of AMI are renter households. There are approximately 8,230 Springfield renter households that earn at or below 30% of AMI and have one or more severe housing problems. These households are at greater risk of housing instability or homelessness.

The median gross rent in Springfield was $761 per month according to the 2019 Census ACS survey. For people to be able to afford that rent and contribute 30% or less of their household income toward housing they would need to earn at least $30,440 annually.

Resources needed in Springfield

Feedback received through the consultation process suggested a need for an additional non-congregate shelter for families and youth. According to the report, if there is a sufficient permanent housing resource available there will be a decrease in the need for emergency shelter beds.

However, if there are limited resources available or if there are challenges stopping people from obtaining housing quickly, families and individuals must remain n a shelter for a longer period of time. Limited affordable rental units are a major factor in how quickly an individual can move through the Continuum of Housing. The continuum begins with homelessness and ends with renting or owning a home without assistance.

The report also stated supportive services can help prevent homelessness and can help support the homeless in getting housing. According to the United States, Interagency Council on Homelessness combining affordable housing and supportive services can help resolve homelessness, increase housing stability and improve health and lower public costs by reducing the use of publicly funded crisis services.

Residents can read the Draft HOME-ARP Allocation Plan by clicking here.

Council members will discuss the plan at the June 13 meeting and are scheduled to vote on June 27.