SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – Federal coronavirus funding has helped some local organizations continue their cause even during these challenging times. One non-profit received half a million dollars to help provide housing for the homeless.
Since March, Community Partnership of the Ozarks has put 880 people up in hotel rooms to protect them from the coronavirus. Now, CPO will use $500,000 to continue to protect those families from the cold as well.
“I think this could happen to just about anyone,” said Adam Bodendieck.
Bodendieck said many people in the Ozarks are just one emergency away from losing their housing.
“We are serving families who were tentatively hanging on. They were doing everything right, but then COVID came along and employment was lost,” he said.
Bodendieck is the Director for Homeless Services for Community Partnership of the Ozarks. He said the Merciful Nights program started in March. He said the goal was getting people off the street and into hotel rooms, to provide isolation and safety from the coronavirus.
“The population that we work with is particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. There’s a lot of underlying health conditions. There’s a lot of factors that, if it were to rage through that community, it would just be absolutely terrible,” he said.
As winter weather approached, CPO looked for more crisis cold weather shelters to provide a break from the elements. The shelters typically open after Nov. 1 when the temperature drops below 32 degrees. This year, capacities were cut in half for social distancing purposes, leaving less space to sleep for those who are struggling.
“We’re having lots of discussions to see where we could potentially stand up cold weather shelters, but if that’s going to happen, we’ll need to increase volunteer pool as well,” Bodendieck said.
Now, $500,000 will offer more hotel rooms for more families who need to get away from the cold or the coronavirus. Bodendieck said it’ll also pay for outreach and case management to find long-term solutions for homelessness, though he’s not sure yet how many new staff members will be hired.
“Housing is a basic human right. It’s important,” he said.
Right now, there are only two crisis cold weather shelters, East Sunshine Church of Christ and Grace United Methodist Church. With limited capacities, there is enough room for 50 men and 15 women total.
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