JOPLIN, Mo. — A couple of Southwest Missouri lawmakers are putting the spotlight on homelessness.

“If a community doesn’t feel safe, the reality was safety isn’t the issue. People have a right to feel safe,” said MO Rep. Lane Roberts, (R).

And safety is just one of the issues State Representative Lane Roberts is looking at when it comes to how homelessness affects the community.

“What are those impacts? What can we do to mitigate it?” said Roberts.

Roberts is teaming up with State Rep. Ben Baker — working to learn more about community experiences, especially in the Joplin area.

They say the goal isn’t to tackle homelessness itself but rather to hear what the community is experiencing and see if there are state-level solutions they can implement.

“It’s very important that we not see this as an anti-homelessness question. These are people who live kind of as a consequence of things that have gone on in their life. We don’t know why they’re facing what they are. And I don’t think it’s up to us to judge that. I think it’s important that we do everything we can to help them. But we also need to recognize that there’s a community that’s impacted by it, and they have an interest as well,” said Roberts.

Roberts and Baker plan to host a town hall meeting, hoping to hear more about issues and solutions.

“Maybe nothing new comes of it, and maybe something really worthwhile does. But I think it’s an issue that we all recognize, and having us dealing with these little components doesn’t make sense to me. It’s such a huge problem both nationwide and locally. But I think we need to try to draw those elements together if we can,” said Roberts.

The town hall meeting will be held on Wednesday, November first, starting at 1:00 p.m. at the Joplin Public Library.