SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Springfield City Council addressed homelessness in Springfield at the city council meeting Monday night.
“This homeless squatter situation is decimating, decimating our neighborhoods. The police were up there many times to break up fights, issues with homeless people. These things don’t help our neighborhood,” said a member of the public at the city council meeting.
Springfield council members and city manager Jason Gage acknowledged that homelessness has been an issue in Springfield for decades.
“I know this is an ongoing issue. I’ve been out to neighborhoods and seen it. And as you mentioned, I experienced this with our family business on Commercial Street,” said Richard Ollis, a Springfield councilman.
“We recognize this is a big problem. As much as we know we’re called to help other people, we can’t compromise our residents and businesses,” said Jason Gage, Springfield city manager.
Gage and council members bounced around several ideas at the meeting.
Some members were talking about giving out citations. Some brought up the possibility of the homeless getting arrested.
But some councilmembers expressed opposition to these ideas.
“It doesn’t appear that a citation actually gets us much of anywhere,” said Ollis.
“Families don’t feel safe, and it doesn’t seem like we can do much because it’s public property,” said Angela Romine, a Springfield council member.
“I do not condone criminalizing homelessness, and incarceration cannot be our primary solution,” said Heather Hardinger, another Springfield council member.