JOPLIN, Mo. — Just over a year after breaking ground, a housing project aimed at providing permanent homes for seniors and homeless veterans is now open for business.
For Joplin Bungalow tenant Willie Shirden, living here is a far cry from how things used to be.
Willie Shirden, Joplin Bungalow tenant, said, “My life was real terrible in St. Louis. I was homeless. I was on the street, doing what I could to survive. All of my money was going to drugs and alcohol.”
He eventually decided to turn his life around, and his path to recovery eventually lead him to Joplin.
He received treatment, and has now been 15 months clean.
He was the first of 10 tenants here to move into the Joplin Bungalows, a new housing development for seniors and veterans.
“It feels so great. It feels so good. I can wake up. I can wake up in the morning and no more community living. I was in a room with two other guys out at the house and I don’t have to hear no more snoring. I can wake up and go take a shower, don’t have to wait in lines!”
The Joplin Bungalows feature eight studio homes and 11 one bedroom homes.
They come fully furnished, with utilities included, and pets welcome.
Debbie Markman, Resource Development Director, Economic Security Corporation of SW Area, said, “We put furnishings in there because people that are homeless don’t drive around with a bed, and place to sit, and a dining table. They just don’t have those things. So if you place them in an empty place, that just doesn’t make a lot of sense for them for that first night to be able to eat, sleep, and relax and breathe again.”
Markman says the project has been a long time coming, and helps fill a need in the community.
“We need small housing right? Utilities are high. These are predominantly singles and that’s what we had noticed in our Homeless Coalition’s Point in Time Count, is that we have a lot of single homeless men and women.”
For Shirden, and many of other tenants here like him, it also helps give some stability in an uncertain time.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve had a place to call my own. I know when this thing is over with, this virus, I know I can go and I can come and I’ve always got a place to come back to. I haven’t got to wonder where I’m going to sleep tonight. Is the shelter open or something like that,” said Shirden.