The city of St. Joseph could be partnering with Mosaic Life Care and other organizations to provide aid to area homeless, and solve issues in an area of the city with a high concentration of homeless people.
The Urban Mission Collaboration, which will be funded largely through Mosaic’s Community Connect grant program, will coordinate services to help provide health care, substance abuse treatment, employment, education, housing and other services for those experiencing homelessness in St. Joseph.
On Monday, Chief Government and Community Relations Officer for Mosaic Pat Dillon met with the City Council in order to work toward a partnership with the city for the collaboration.
Dillon said the hospital does a community health needs assessment once every three years, and the results led to the creation of the proposed three-year program.
“The government requires that every hospital do a community health needs assessment to determine the top health issues in their community,” he said. “Ours came back, we just finished one, and (the issues are) substance abuse, access to care for those in poverty and mental health.”
He said Mosaic believes this will be a good project to attack those issues while also stabilizing the neighborhood around Messanie and Eighth streets where there is a high population of homeless people.
This area is where The Crossing and Eighth Street Community Missions are located, as well as where the future Food Kitchen is being built.
During the work session, business owners and residents who live near the area spoke about their property being stolen, being threatened as they walk into their homes and having to call the police frequently for trespassers and people going to the restroom in public.
Some said they had even witnessed violent crimes near their homes and businesses.
Council Member Kent O’Dell agreed with those people, and said he would like to see either the shelter relocated or the businesses owners relocated with financial aid.
“I’ve got nothing against the homeless whatsoever and I love what they’re doing, Mosaic,” O’Dell said. “It’s just, a place needs to be picked and it doesn’t just need to be thrown in someone’s backyard. Nobody wants this in their business, nobody wants it in their house and nobody wants it in their area.”
O’Dell said Mosaic helped The Crossing to provide temporary shelter during a time of crisis, which is when trouble began for area business owners, and he doesn’t want to extend that for another three years.
Dillon said the plan would provide additional security in the area and could help solve some the problems.
“Our goal is two-fold, one is certainly to help this unfortunate population, but it’s also to help the neighbors and the business owners down in the area, to help stabilize this area,” Dillon said. “Part of the plan is to add some more security in the area, by having some security there to help take care of some of the things going on. We think that will help.”
Mosaic is hoping to partner with the City of St. Joseph Health Department, which would provide a full-time person to be onsite to hold other agencies accountable for the plan. They also want to work with the police department to increase security in the area.
Other groups that could receive funding would be The Crossing, Community Action Partnership, Pivotal Point, Habitat for Humanity, Family Guidance Center, St. Kolbe-Puckett Center for Healing and Foundations for Recovery.
The council members asked that all of the groups that may be involved meet with them in a work session to talk about specific issues in the area.
They also asked city staff to look into adding vagrancy laws to the books.