Springfield, Mo. – Local agencies that work to prevent and alleviate homelessness are finding themsevles swamped these days.
Bob Jones, Grants Administrator for City of Springfield Planning Department, stated, “For rent assistance, I am told some of the agencies are getting one hundred calls per day asking for help. You don’t have enough hours in the day to answer the phone let along meet with someone and find out what their circumstances are.”
It’s a backlog many were bracing for with the expiration of the rent moratorium earlier this year.
Jones explained, “Even when the moratoriums were out there, I think a lot of people just put it at the back of their mind rather than catch up with their rent back then or get help in that point in time. He added, “I think a lot of people were like ” I will do it tomorrow. well, tomorrow came.”
On Monday evening, the city council heard first reading of a bill dealing with $3.8-million in HOME-American Rescue Plan money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) The amount is Springfield’s allocation of a $5-billion program passed by Congress last spring.
The city first has to come up with a plan on how exactly to spend it, and will work with area non-profit agencies to make a list of priorities. Possible ideas include programs, staffing, operations of shelters.
It could also go toward building shelters of some kind.
Bob Jones said the city would like to have those talks done by December. That final plan would then have to be approved by the city council and HUD.
Jones said, “There are a lot of needs out there and i think Springfield has a lot of cooperation and collaborative efforts between those agencies and outside the agencies that want to help the homeless. it is just the facilities aren’t there or they don’t have enough resources to handle them all.”
The council is expected to vote on accepting the money at its next meeting, to be held November 15th.