(St. Joseph,MO) The Salvation Army will soon shut its doors at the Booth Center for renovations, leaving a gap in the resources available to St. Joseph’s homeless population.
The shelter will stop taking on new applicants begin on Thursday and the center will close its doors on May 31, putting current residents into alternative housing.
Monday the Homeless Strategies and Emergency Response Task Force met for the first time to answer questions and take suggestions for what the community and area agencies should to to help those who are chronically homeless. The task force was comprised of community agencies, local law enforcement, city and county officials and numerous concerned citizens.
Rachael Vittiker leads the HEALTH (Helping Everyone Achieve Long Term Housing) team for the St. Joseph Social Welfare Board and said people who regularly work with vulnerable populations know that the problem runs deeper than finding a new building for people to stay in.
“St. Joseph suffers from low housing stock and then when you add the barriers this population has; We might have money to pay for people to live for a certain amount of time, but the housing stock is an issue because there aren't enough landlords available to provide shelter or placement for these people,” Vittiker said. “Another issue this population sees is an employment issue. Most of the people that are in the shelter technically are employed, but living on a wage that’s minimal that doesn’t support the family that they have.”
The HEALTH team has helped provide assistance to 11 of the current residents at the Booth Center and is working with other agencies to find a housing solution for those who will not have a place to go when the Booth Center closes at the end of the month.
The task force will meet again tomorrow from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the United Way building to continue brainstorming ideas for helping the homeless after the Booth Center closes.