This is Amanda and her baby. Amanda is no longer homeless, thanks to support and services provided by Community Partnership of the Ozarks. (Photo: CPO)

In the height of the pandemic — back when many people lost their jobs due to the shutdown or couldn’t work because schools went virtual — Community Partnership of the Ozarks (CPO) received funding from the city to help keep those people from becoming homeless. 

The city had received federal funding to give to local programs for affordable housing, homelessness assistance and prevention, along with business assistance loans.

CPO used the funds to beef up its shelter diversion services, which provide case management and funds for individuals and families who are either at risk of becoming homeless or just became homeless for reasons related to the pandemic — 124 households were served.

Of those households, 90 percent of them remain housed today, according to CPO’s annual report released this week. 

“We saw just an amazing success rate there,” said Adam Bodendieck, CPO’s director of Homeless Services. “That was something I was just extremely proud of the team for their efforts on that. I think it is something I would love to see more of an expansion of over time.”

Program for precarious paycheck-to-paycheck households

This is the O’Reilly Center for Hope, a community hub with about 20 partner agencies that offer services related to affordable housing, financial stability, and the overall well-being of the community. (Photo: Community Partnership of the Ozarks)

Bodendieck said this particular program had a high success rate because it was serving people who had relatively low barriers to housing but were at risk of homelessness due to the pandemic. 

“Diversion is essentially housing problem solving,” he explained. “It’s really being able to provide an intense burst of case management and flexible funding and have some strengths-based conversations (to) figure out: ‘How can we help you resolve your housing crisis?’

“This is not necessarily an approach for our chronically homeless population that needs ongoing, more intensive support services,” he said. “This is for our episodically homeless families and individuals, where more often than not, they were barely hanging on and something just kind of pushed them over the edge. It’s where a lot of us live. It’s that ‘one paycheck away’ kind of situation.”

CPO is a Springfield-based nonprofit that serves Greene and the surrounding counties. CPO has a variety of programs to fulfill its mission of “building of resilient children, healthy families, and strong neighborhoods & communities through collaboration, programming and resource development.”

The annual report includes data from CPO’s fiscal year of July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022. 

Find the full report here

Some key findings from CPO’s annual report include:

In the past year, CPO programs had 6,716 volunteers who donated 30,270 hours. The organization leveraged more than $12 million for the community and served or impacted some 55,000 people.

Early childhood and family development 

CPO’s Educare program is a team that “meets with child care providers to improve school readiness, promote developmentally-appropriate activities, improve health and safety and support appropriate interactions when dealing with behaviors,” the report said. The team had 681 visits to child care providers in Greene, Christian, Taney, Webster and Polk counties. 

The Infant Toddler Support Network served 40 classrooms, impacting about 400 kids, according to Community Partnership of the Ozarks annual report. (Photo: CPO)

CPO’s Infant Toddler Support Network “works to increase the quality of infant and toddler child care” in the Ozarks, the report said. In the past year, it served 40 classrooms, impacting about 400 kids.

Triple P, which stands for Positive Parenting Program, is a “best practice parenting program that helps parents manage big and small problems of family life,” the report said. This program served more than 500 parents in the last year.

Affordable housing, homeless prevention

CPO’s One Door program serves those who are facing a housing crisis. One Door serves as the community’s central point of entry for coordinated intake, assessment, and referrals for housing and shelter services. According to the report, One Door did 1,219 intakes which encompassed 2,347 people. All that resulted in 497 referrals to supportive housing services. 

The O’Reilly Center for Hope opened in 2020 and serves as a community hub for about 20 partner agencies “in support of affordable housing, financial stability, and the overall well-being of people in our community,” the report said. In the last year, 4,342 different guests were served on-site and 16,213 referrals were made within the center.

Community and neighborhood programs

CPO facilitates neighborhood clean-ups throughout Springfield. “These allow residents to dispose of yard waste, old furniture, construction debris and much more, free of charge,” the report said. In the past year, 239 tons of trash were removed, 18 tons of scrap metal were recycled, and 1,565 households were served.

The full report has details about CPO’s other programs including rental assistance, transportation, mentoring, substance use prevention for teens and several more. Download the full report here

Jackie Rehwald

Jackie Rehwald is a reporter at the Springfield Daily Citizen. She covers housing, homelessness, domestic violence and early childhood, among other public affairs issues. Her office line is 417-837-3659. More by Jackie Rehwald