JOPLIN, Mo. — Spending too much time outside during freezing weather is very dangerous. But for the homeless in the Joplin area, they might not have a choice.
You may not see them from the street when you drive by, but they’re out there, often times just a few yards away from some of the busiest roadways in Joplin.
Once each year, people like Shonna Greninger and Tammy Walker head outdoors in the bitter cold of late January to try and find out how many and educate them about services they can tap into to possibly get off the streets for good.
“They have a pretty elaborate set up of tarps and blankets that look like they’ve been used and it’s all enclosed and like stuff that you might just find on the ground, they have it set up like it’s a tent,” said Tammy Walker, Comm. Development Director, Economic Security.
After doing this for a decade, Walker can tell this particular location off West 7th Street is home to someone, but the occupant wasn’t there when the women came by. So she left a piece of paper to help them get started.
Greninger says some members of the homeless population in the area are transient, meaning they move around a lot and may not know what’s available to them.
“I feel like a lot of people that, especially sleeping outdoors, that those people do not know about the shelters, about the places to get food and resources that are out there for them to get in a better place, ” said Greninger, Housing Connect.
“A lot of times they may be that they just don’t know what the first step is,” added Walker.
Normally, the following day would be “Project Homeless Connect” but due to rising COVID numbers, that’s being put off.
“A one-stop shop day where people come in, we have area resources gathered where they can apply for services. We’re gonna try and do that in a couple of months when the cases are down a little bit lower and it’s safer for more people to be inside in a small group.”