State of the Workforce SurveyThe Ozark Region Workforce Development Board partners with the City of Springfield, Missouri Job Center, and area chambers of commerce for an annual regional survey. The State of the Workforce Survey focuses on local business owners, human resource representatives, and managers to identify the issues, challenges, and trends across the seven county Ozark Region: Christian, Dallas, Greene, Polk, Stone, Taney, and Webster. Survey results are utilized by the City of Springfield's Department of Workforce Development, Ozark Region Workforce Development Board, Area Chambers of Commerce, and a variety of local partners to determine where efforts should be focused and funds should be allocated. Previous survey results led to the creation of the Industry Roundtable Discussion series to further discuss issues within the Construction, Healthcare, Information Technology, and Manufacturing industries, which in turn have led to several training programs and grants addressing local needs.
The 2015 and 2016 survey results are available at springfieldmo.gov/MOmentum. The third annual State of the Workforce Survey was released Oct. 18, 2016. Survey results are released at the annual MOmentum: State of the Workforce Luncheon in February.
HELP Program: Assistance with Home Repair and WeatherizationIn 2016, the City and several community partners expanded a federally funded program that provides emergency loan funds and assistance to low-to- moderate income homeowners. The Homeowner Emergency Loan Program (HELP) provides funding and assistance for critical home repairs. These repairs are meant to allow residents to be able to remain in their homes and where possible, increase energy efficiency to lower utility costs. Inability to afford utility costs is among the top reasons people are forced out of their homes. Working together, partners City of Springfield, Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri, Council of Churches of the Ozarks - Connections Handyman Service, Habitat for
Humanity and Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation (OACAC) are able to leverage the federal funds with local dollars and expand the availability of federal dollars by addressing home repairs that are required before federally funding applies. HELP provides direct funding for improvements in the form of forgivable loans or referrals to partner agencies for alternative assistance opportunities. Federal funding is made possible by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG).
Eden Village: Homes for the homelessA Springfield charity announced plans in November 2016 to create a community that is the first of its kind in Springfield. The Gathering Tree, a local non-profit, is building Eden Village, a gated community with 30 tiny houses for chronically disabled homeless individuals.
Dr. David Brown and his wife Linda co-founded The Gathering Tree in 2010. The Gathering Tree is a drop-in center offering hospitality to Springfield’s homeless community on weeknights at Vineyard Church in downtown Springfield.
The Browns raised $90,000 in private donations for a down payment on property at 2801 E. Division St. Judy Huntsman with Coldwell Bankers donated $33,000 to build the first of 30 homes and her team of agents and staff have pledged to furnish the first home. Eden Village residents will pay $300 a month, utilities included. Additional amenities and services provided onsite will help connect residents with social services needed to eventually leave the village. The Browns describe the project as belonging to the community. They consider themselves the conduits helping solve the problem of homelessness. According to Greendoor.org a homeless person can cost a community more than #30,000 a year from ER visits to jail time.
Hack 4 Good focuses on connecting homeless individuals to vital resourcesOn Dec. 9, 2016, dozens of app developers, data experts, and civic hackers came together at Springfield’s eFactory to help address barriers to opportunity in the Springfield region. As part of an annual event hosted by the Mid-America Technology Alliance, Hack4Good, teams competed to "hack" together in 24 hours an application that:
1. connects the homeless to vital resources
2. connects volunteers in real-time to meet the needs of the homeless community.
While every homeless person's story and circumstances are different, it is common for either them or someone in their micro-community to have a smart phone where they can use free WiFi from various places all over the Springfield area to stay in contact and look for resources.
Many difference civic organizations provide and curate resources available to the homeless, but there currently is not a centralized way to make them available or to reach out to members of the homeless community.
The #hackpoverty Hack4Good was sponsored by the City of Springfield, Missouri Job Center and Drury University. Council of Churches of the Ozarks Resource Specialist Council of Churches of the Ozarks created a new Community Resource Specialist position in order to become an integral part of a city-wide system to meet the needs of families in crisis. The Crosslines employee will offer case management assistance in order to link with other service providers and to access resources for individuals and families.