JEFFERSON CITY — Creating more effective solutions to homelessness in Missouri became closer to reality as legislation sponsored by Sen. Holly Thompson Rehder, R-Scott City, was signed into law. House Bill 1606 includes a provision the senator originally introduced as Senate Bill 1106 to provide state funds for facilities that provide mental health services and substance abuse recovery programs along with temporary housing for the homeless.
“According to research conducted by UCLA, three-quarters of long-term homeless individuals struggle with mental health issues or substance misuse disorders. The national model of “housing first” has failed to focus on these root causes,” Sen. Thompson Rehder said. “This legislation shifts our focus from long-term housing to short-term housing coupled with wrap around mental health services.”
The bill bans on-street camping in public areas and seeks to relocate homeless individuals to facilities where treatment is available. Nonprofit organizations and public entities will be eligible for state grants to develop camping facilities and short-term shelters with mental health and recovery services on-site. Additional funding will be available for facilities able to demonstrate success transitioning homeless individuals into employment and permanent housing. Joining Sen. Thompson Rehder to witness the governor sign the legislation was Rep. Bruce DeGroot, R-Chesterfield, who sponsored a companion version of the legislation.
“Enacting this bill puts Missouri squarely on track to decrease street homelessness in a cost-effective, compassionate manner,” Rep. DeGroot said. “Other states have already taken notice and it may very well become the conservative model used throughout the nation to help those in need.”
For more information about Sen. Holly Thompson Rehder, visit senate.mo.gov/Rehder.