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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Springfield Police Department and Community Partnership of the Ozarks’ One Door program, which works to prevent and end homelessness in Greene, Christian and Webster Counties, continue to work together to assist an estimated 20 individuals who are trespassing and, at the request of property owners, were notified they need to move from these locations in the city not appropriate for camping.
Officers with Springfield Police Department’s Community Services Section and One Door coordinators met personally with nine individuals at three different campsites Thursday. They will continue to try to work with these individuals to coordinate resources for them, provide basic necessities, and try to connect them with alternative shelter options.
One Door staff believes several people they connected with at the sites yesterday will accept alternate shelter. The staff, along with several partner agencies, will assist the individuals with relocating their personal belongings.
Officers and coordinators will make a final visit next week to ensure all campers have vacated the properties. If they have not at that point, they will be either cited, or they will be departing immediately.
The railroad property owners of the campsite near Fort and College are in the process of having equipment on site next week to start debris removal.
SPD began working directly with One Door in 2014 after the City of Springfield created a protocol for moving homeless camps that officials believe is the “most humane” way to address the issue of homeless individuals living on private property against the owners’ wishes.
The protocol specifically calls for agencies and advocates who provide services to the homeless to be contacted once an order to vacate has been given. This gives them an opportunity to work with the homeless individuals in situations where they must be removed from either public property or private property (if the landowner makes a request).
The protocol also allows that those needing to move will have at least 24 hours to do so.
“We have an amazing network of people working in our community to alleviate the suffering of the poor and homeless. We want to give them the opportunity to do the fine work they do,” said Cora Scott, Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement.
If the Springfield Police Department feels an after-move clean-up will be necessary for a public site, they will notify the City of Springfield Public Works Department of the location of the camp and confirm that a minimum of a 24-hour notice has been issued to the campers. The Public Works Department will schedule a clean-up of the location after the 24-hour notice has expired. This time gap will ensure homeless individuals have sufficient time to move and/or retrieve any desired items.
Any such clean-up of private property will remain the responsibility of the property owner.
According to Springfield’s 2013 point-in-time homeless count data, on any given night in Springfield, 711 people are homeless. That number includes 350 single adults, 50 veterans, 425 families and 163 children.
“Together with the rising poverty rate, this challenge is one the most difficult issues we are facing as a community,” said City Manager Greg Burris.
The City of Springfield would like to thank the many faith-based and other non-profit organizations that have stepped up to assist with addressing the important necessity of providing stable housing for the under-resourced.
“While the City has minimum public safety standards in place for institutions wishing to assist with sheltering, we are happy to talk with any church or organization that is willing to step up and try to help,” said City Manager Greg Burris.
About One Door One Door exists to prevent and end homelessness through coordination of resources and navigation of services in Greene, Christian and Webster counties in Southwest Missouri. One Door provides a central point of entry for many of the shelters and shelter-related services in the Greene, Christian and Webster Continuum of Care geographic area. Additionally, One Door maintains a resource directory for other social service organizations.
If you, or someone you know, is at risk of becoming homeless or currently without a safe, stable place to stay, call 417-225-7499 or visit us at the Springfield Affordable Housing Center located at 300 E. Central. One of the One Door service coordinators will meet with you to help identify options that may meet your individual needs.
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For more information, contact: Cora Scott, Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement, at 417-864-1009 (office) | 417-380-3352 (cell), or email@example.com; Michelle Garand, Deputy Director, Affordable Housing and Homeless Prevention, Community Partnership of the Ozarks, at 417-888-2020; or Lisa Cox, Public Affairs Officer, Springfield Police Department, at 417-864-1786.