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Joplin Salvation Army Transitioning to Rapid Rehousing Program - KOAM TV 7

Joplin Salvation Army Transitioning to Rapid Rehousing Program

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development is transitioning to a housing first approach, prompting the Salvation Army in Joplin to do the same. But the change could mean that more families will end up homeless.

Each year, about 32 families will live in the rooms the Salvation Army Family Center provides. But soon those in need will not be able to have a meal, play a game, or watch TV there.  Decreases in government funding and community donations will force the Salvation Army to close its shelter.

“The last 5 or 6 years the Salvation Army giving from the community and others has been cut in half but the needs have probably doubled,” says Major Douglas Stearns with the Joplin Salvation Army.

Following changes in HUD policies, when current funding runs out, the Salvation Army in Joplin will move from a shelter and transitional housing program to a rapid rehousing program.

“The program is aimed to rehouse families as soon as possible, as quickly as possible," says Debra Gaskill, emergency social services case worker at the Salvation Army. She has experience with other Rapid Rehousing programs.

They will partner with local landlords to get families into affordable housing and the funds will initially help pay for rent. Some Salvation Army officials worry that it could be a quick fix to a bigger problem.

“The government wants to put them in housing and then think about the problem but it’s not going to solve the problem. I’m no expert or social worker but unless you get to the root problem, when you try to solve the surface problems, you still have the root problem,” says Stearns.

A positive aspect of rapid rehousing is that it gets families into permanent housing. However, there are concerns that there isn’t enough affordable housing in the Joplin area.

“We do have a little bit lower abundance of housing available so it does make it a little bit more difficult when you have to stay within certain ranges but it’s doable just not immediately sometimes,” says Gaskill.

And with the shelter closing, they worry about what families will do in between and if there will be enough funds.

The rapid rehousing program will start in February 2017. Salvation Army officials haven't figured out how long they'll be assisting families in the program with rent. They think the funds will allow them to help 6 or 7 families each year.

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