Homelessness in Joplin

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JOPLIN, Mo. — Nearly 6,000 people across the state are homeless on any given night — and, it’s an issue felt on a local level.

More than 500 families stayed at Watered Gardens over the last year and more than 200 at Soul’s Harbor.

The Joplin mayor has declared this week as Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week.

Shane Lowther said, “Stuck in this trap of homelessness, and just this cycle”

Stuck — that’s what Lowther says he’s been experiencing for the last few years in Joplin.

“We never understood that chronic homelessness was a thing. We didn’t know that you could be chronically homeless.”

Lowther and hundreds of others in the area, are seeing repeated homelessness as a growing problem.

Travis Hurley of Watered Gardens said, “This is an area not unlike many cities in the United States where you’re going to have folks who go through chronic, sometimes crisis homelessness.”

For Shane, it started when rent went up and he simply could no longer afford it.

“It’s tough because there’s limited number of housing,” said Lowther.

On any given night, the National Alliance To End Homelessness reports nearly 6,000 people are homeless in Missouri.

“There’s not just one reason, there’s not just one generalization,” said Lowther.

“There are many variables and that’s why its so important to get to know each person’s story,” said Hurley

Places like Souls Harbor and Watered Gardens are hoping to make a difference.

Hurley said, “This last year, we provided overnight shelter for 526 different people for a total of 14,600 plus nights”

Everybody needs that time of day for somebody to listen to them and say hey it’s gonna be okay.

Joplin city leaders are working to fight the issue by approving more than $40,000 to help people like Shane.

Shane says he hopes to get on his feet soon with the resources provided to the homeless population in Joplin — and then he’d like to advocate on their behalf.

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