Missouri allocates funding toward homeless needs

Thursday, August 25, 2011 | 7:18 p.m. CDT; updated 5:05 p.m. CDT, Friday, August 26, 2011

*CORRECTION: There are 16,000 children under 8 who are homeless in Missouri and 5,000 veterans. An earlier version of this article had that information reversed.

COLUMBIA — A $122 million plan to provide housing for homeless people in Missouri was approved Thursday by the Missouri Housing Development Commission.

State Treasurer Clint Zweifel’s housing plan would be statewide in scope, Jon Galloway, spokesman for the treasurer, said. It has not been determined where the housing will be built, Galloway said.

The initiative is “the first significant step to provide housing to the homeless,” Galloway said. “We are committed to providing housing to these people with no increase to taxpayers.”

The plan includes providing support services, such as case management, coordination of medical and psychiatric care, on-call crisis help, money management, social skills and daily living training and support groups, to help the residents become more independent, Galloway said.

“This investment will create an estimated 400 units of specialized housing – housing that will efficiently reduce costs to communities throughout Missouri by taking pressure off hospitals, jails, prisons and emergency rooms,” Zweifel said in prepared remarks.

“The ultimate goal is to have someone live independent, and that’s a lot cheaper than have somebody go from jail, to homeless shelter to emergency room and back to shelter,” Galloway said.

“With 24,000 homeless people, 16,000 of which are children with an average age of 8 and 5,000 veterans*, it is critical that we start now and not wait any longer,” Galloway said.

The plan is endorsed by The National Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health America of Eastern Missouri, Galloway said.

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