(ST. JOSEPH, MO.) City council held a meeting Monday afternoon to hear from homeowners and businesses about problems they're facing in connection to the homeless population near downtown.
Homeless individuals were also asked to attend the public meeting to voice their opinions on what needs to be done to help fix the issues.
"We have a lot of people who are good and sincere people who are trying to better their lives," Mayor Bill McMurray said. "The problem, however, is not with those people, the problem is with the people that perhaps due to mental illness or to drug addiction or, who knows what problem, just do not wish to change."
The Council Chamber was full of property and business owners who all said they were worried most about the congregation of homeless individuals around the new Food Kitchen area at 8th and Messanie Streets.
During the meeting, several St. Joseph agencies spoke about their efforts to affect change in the area. Mosaic Life Care officials said they are planning to invest in a program that will target homelessness in St. Joe.
"It's really part of our mission to help those in need, plus it's population health," Pat Dillon, communication advocate for Mosaic, said. "You know, these folks that are down there very often have a lot of health issues, so if we can help them get through that we're just doing our jobs."
This comes after the hospital performed a Health Needs Assessment, which is required every three years. The program will tackle three initiatives: substance abuse in the community, mental health and access to health care for those in poverty.
"All of those seem to be related down in the area where the homeless population is, so we've decided to kind of put our efforts to that for the next couple of years and see if we can help stabilize that neighborhood," Dillon said.
Another aspect of the plan, according to Dillon, will be hiring officers to patrol the 8th and Messanie Streets area. He said Mosaic has spoken with St. Joseph Police about paying off-duty officers to secure the area at certain times of the day/night to help protect those living in the neighborhood.
"They will patrol the areas down there at certain times so that those who aren't supposed to be there that continue to be around and, let's say, do cause the trouble, maybe will help them move on," Dillon said.
Mosaic will be partnering with agencies like Community Action Partnership, Pivotal Point and The Crossing to help those in need to find resources to help better their lives.
"Essentially, the Health Department would administer the program and we'd have a whole collection of social service agencies who would meet at that building," McMurray said. "This is the goal. This is what we're searching for."
McMurray said the agencies will aim to help people get ID cards, benefits, job trainings, jobs and eventually a place to live.