Are there more homelessness in Joplin? It depends where you look and count

Photo by Michael Tuszynski on Pexels.com

The topic of homelessness was front and center in Joplin city council elections that took place yesterday.

Many candidates said that the city council didn’t consider the issue seriously. According to the Homeless Coalition’s Homeless Census Count from the last eight years from 2014 through 2021, the number of homeless individuals in Joplin has remained stable at around 271.

Tammy Walker with the Economic Security Cooperation of Southwest Missouri presented her most recent findings on Monday at the city council meeting. Councilmember Phil Stinnett disagrees with Walker, asserting that the number of homeless people in the city has increased.

“From my perspective sitting up here, I honestly doubt I would find very many average citizens who would agree with you on the homelessness side. I’ve lived here all my life; I wouldn’t agree with you on the homelessness side. Because I see them daily. I’m around town all the time, and I see a lot more than I ever used to see. Maybe they just weren’t out on the streets where you couldn’t see them as easily years ago.”

2012, the year after the tornado, Joplin experienced a spike in homelessness. The year netted the highest homeless count conducted during the annual January census with 1,724. In 2021, that number had dwindled to just 210.

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