As temperatures will soon begin falling, local organizations are bracing for the winter. On Sept. 9, the Community Partnership of the Ozarks hosted a virtual crisis cold weather shelter summit. 

According to Justin Lockhart, vice president of communications at Community Partnership of the Ozarks, nearly 200 residents are homeless each night. During the winter, cold temperatures make this reality dangerous for Springfield residents without secure housing.

The city of Springfield allows for temporary housing to help combat this issue. It is part of the city’s Declaration of Economic and Housing Calamity ordinance.

“​​During the 2020-2021 winter months, 8 sites provided shelter beds over the course of the season. These Crisis Cold Weather Shelters were open 74 nights, providing 5,907 bed nights (includes duplicated numbers served),” Lockhart said in a press release. “An average of 80 people were served per night, with the highest use occurring in February (average of 112 people served per night), when there was extended extreme temperatures.”

With last year’s increased attendance, the city is trying to find ideas to help deal with the increased population. 

“There will be a virtual Solutions for Shelter Summit series starting on Thursday, September 9th at 12:00 p.m,” Lockhart said. “The following sessions will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 14 and Thursday, Sept. 16 at noon. Attendees are not required to attend all sessions. We encourage everyone to attend one, or all, of the sessions.”

In accordance with the event, attendees can go to “engagement sessions at O’Reilly Center for Hope,” Lockhard said. 

The O’Reilly Center for Hope is located at 1518 East Dale Street. 

As the Community Partnership of the Ozarks is preparing, so is Rare Breed. 

According to Rare Breed’s page, “Rare Breed is a central hub that provides immediate access to basic human needs and rapid access to community services for homeless and at-risk youth ages 13-24.”

“In order to prepare for winter, we begin collecting cold-weather gear throughout the year and provide these items to our youth,” Katherine Westmoreland, youth services coordinator, said. “These may include HotHands, gloves, scarves, hats, coats, or other weather-related items. When (a) cold weather shelter has been open the previous evening, we allow unsheltered youth to come in early, at nine, when staff arrives, in order to warm up.”

As time progresses, more details will be released by the Community Partnership of the Ozarks and Rare Breed.

Follow Desiree Nixon on Twitter, @DesireeNixon17

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