Elected Officials Gather in Mexico to Discuss Homelessness in Area

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Law enforcement and community leaders gathered Tuesday in Mexico for an open house hosted to discuss a transitional housing program. 

The open house hosted by the Audrain County Shelter Resource Coalition was held at its main office located at 626 E. Summit St. The nonprofit operates a warming shelter in winter and a resource center.

Federal, state and local officials were invited to the event. The goal was to arise awareness of what ACSRC is doing to fight homelessness in Audrain County. State Rep. Kent Hayden (R-Mexico) was one of those who made an appearance.

One of the biggest things the coalition is fighting is the stereotype that they are giving free handouts, which is why they have been holding open houses in an effort to show what they are doing is making Audrain County a better place to live. 

One of the speakers at the event was a man named Ryan, who helped turn his life around using the ACSRC transitional housing program.

“Over the course of the past two years, I’ve found myself in a struggle with homelessness, fighting addiction, and various legal problems. I’d lost everything two years ago. My children, family support, basically everything I had left,” Ryan said.

He said after getting picked up by police for a failure-to -appear warrant, he spent 42 days in the Audrain County Jail. After getting released, he sought out the homeless shelter and was introduced to the ACSRC transitional housing program. 

The goal of the program is to help people using the homeless shelter find a job, and then move them into the transitional housing program. 

“Since I’ve been at the transitional housing, I’ve had help with getting my Social Security card back. you know basic normal things of life I was assisted with here as well as gaining a support group with the staff members here,” Ryan said. 

He added that now that he holds a full-time job, he has a newfound confidence in life, which includes being able to help take care of his daughter. 

The ACSRC started when a group of community members came together in 2013 to discuss the lack of resources for homeless individuals and families in the area. The group has since expanded.

Tuesday was the third open house they held in an effort to broaden their support and combat the homelessness problem. In 2022 Missouri had 5,992 people reported as homeless by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

“The problem here is just the same as everywhere except it’s our problem,” ACSRC Board Chair Jon Mathews said. 

The shelter is funded through donations, government grants and tax credits such as the Neighborhood Assistance Program. 

“Everyone here has a financial stake in their own success so it’s not just giving things away. it’s literally providing them with a road map,” Mathews said. “Once we see they are ready to move forward then we provide the resources.”

They are currently building a temporary winter shelter at their Summit Street location. The shelter will operate for three months during the winter. The goal is to eventually get enough funding to allow it to continue year-round.

Source : ABC17