SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Eden Village announced on Monday they have filed a lawsuit against the State of Missouri over the passage of a bill they say would put a stop to the work Eden Village and other organizations in Missouri are doing to help Missouri’s homeless community.
The Gathering Tree, doing business as Eden Village, filed the lawsuit on Friday, August 19 against both the state and Attorney General Eric Schmitt. The lawsuit specifically pertains to House Bill 1606, which was approved by Governor Mike Parson on June 29 and would become effective on Sunday, August 28.
In a press release, the nonprofit organization said the bill is “in direct violation of the Missouri State Constitution.”
Eden Village said the Bill would require state and federal funds for the homeless to be used only for several temporary, non-permanent shelters, eliminating those permanent options and potentially stopping organizations that do provide permanent shelter from receiving state or federal government assistance. They also said the section addressing homelessness was “totally unrelated” to most of the bill.
In the final version of House Bill 1606 which was signed by the Governor, the bill states that state funds for individual shelters for the homeless would require occupants to leave after two years in order to stay eligible for funding.
Eden Village currently operates two facilities providing permanent housing to the homeless in Springfield. The Gathering Tree also operates Revive 66, an emergency campground shelter for the homeless.
The organization also said the bill would increase criminal penalties for the homeless, would punish the homeless for their presence on sidewalks and streets and would stop organizations from being able to aid the homeless.
“Further criminalizing homelessness threatens to unnecessarily increase our prison population, create more obstacles to the homeless finding shelter and employment, and dehumanize those already pushed into the margin of society by addiction, mental health diagnoses, poverty and circumstances beyond their control,” Eden Village said in a press release.
“It should not be a crime to be homeless.”