The Joplin salvation army is shutting down its transitional family housing program.

Joseph Head and his children are one of the last families to call the Salvation Army Center of Hope home.
The family transitional living units will be closed at the end of February. 
Major Beckie Stearns said, "It was a horribly tough decision."

And all financial. Red kettle budgets keep coming up short.
Stearns explained, "Back in 2011, they made almost a half a million dollars at Christmas.  And we’re now struggling just to make three hundred fifteen thousand."

So far this year donations are only at one hundred thirty thousand.
That combined with big funding cuts by HUD, the department of housing and urban development.

Evelyn Duvall, the transitional housing director explained, "At one point we had over eighty thousand (dollars) and now we got twenty-three thousand. That’s a big cut. And you can’t do much with that."

Part of the regular cost of running the shelter is twenty-four hour staff.
They've already tried other options like using staff from Experience Works, a state funded program during the day, but other staff have to be paid.

Major Stearns said, “My heart goes out to families. There’s not going to be a place for them to go as a unit." 

Sad news to Cassandra Mueller, now a nurse in the Carthage school district who lived at the center after leaving an abusive home eleven years ago when she was pregnant and with a toddler.
Mueller said, "And I think about the need that I had and they were there to help me. And I don’t know where I’ be if I wasn’t there."

HUD is pushing rapid rehousing.  So Duvall said, they'll be working with landlords. With HUD providing one to three rent. And Duvall said that might not be enough time. "I would say the average has been six to eight months here, which is a good time for them to get a job. We require them to put money up in savings to get ready to  move out, but also to pay off  bills and stuff."

After a few months here, Joseph Head now has a full time job and is hoping to have a home by Christmas. He said his children have him back sober and, “Everything’s worked out so far.”

And Cassandra who now volunteers at the Salvation Army, is ready to close on her own home.  She got emotional when she said, “It’s super awesome to go from homeless to homeowner.”  She urges people to keep giving to the kettles. She said, “This may be small, but it was huge in my life."

     Major Stearns says the center of hope laundry room could be opened to the homeless to wash clothes. And other rooms will be used as storage so the gym can be reopened for youth programs.


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