CPO hosting affordable and fair housing information events this week – News-Leader

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Community Partnership of the Ozarks is celebrating Fair Housing Month with free events this week at the O'Reilly Center for Hope.

The O'Reilly Center for Hope is located in the former Pepperdine School Building at1518 E. Dale St.

The center opened in October 2020to offer services and supports to residents of Springfield and the surrounding area. The center aims to be a "one-stop-shop" service center for housing and financial stability and is home to multiple partner agencies including Habitat for Humanity, One Door, Burrell Behavioral Health, OACAC,Catholic Charities and Springfield Community Land Trust to name a few.

To celebrate this collaborative initiative, CPO will offer events this weekto highlight the services and programming available at the OReilly Center for Hope, as well as invite community members to learn about the local, state and federal responses to increase safe, decent, affordable and accessible housing.

To kick off the events, residents from the neighborhood were given a tour of the building Tuesday evening. The tour wasled byCPO'sVice President ofAffordable Housing & Homeless Prevention Michelle Garand and CPO President and CEOJanet Dankert.

Dankert said the best part about having the difference agencies under one roof was the collaboration and brainstorming that naturally happens.

"When you see a gap, you can automatically fill it," she said, "when you have the space and the people and the synergy."

Garand gave the neighbors a bit of the center's history before beginning the tour. She said the need to have such a centerwith a multitude of agencies under one roofwas identified some 20 years ago. The center has been part of the City of Springfield's Consolidated Plan for years.

The Springfield Affordable Housing Center was established in 2013 in a small city-owned building in downtown. That served as an office spacefor CPO's One Door, Springfield Community Land Trust, Catholic Charities, Habitat for Humanity and Family Support Division.

Securing and renovatingthe Pepperdine building into theO'Reilly Center for Hope has been about a five-year project, with funding coming from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and private donors.

Throughout the tour, Garand emphasized that the entire building is designed to be "trauma informed" and the organizations there are HIPAA compliant.

"Anyone walking in our doors feels very protected with their personal information and we are really good stewards of that," she said. "Even though we may share information agency to agency in the building, we are doing it in a way that is highly protective and respectful of that person."

In addition to having access tomultiple service agencies at the center, anyone can come in and use the public computers, bathroom and shower facilities, laundry facilities and the heat room (to kill bed bugs and other insects from clothing and bedding). There is no charge for any of these services.

"This is not a day center, not a shelter," Garand said. "Our services end at 9 p.m. That is through our conditional use permit."

Garand and Dankert encouraged those from the neighborhood to learn about the different education opportunities that are offered at the O'Reilly Center for Hope. Topics includenutrition and healthy cooking, better rental living, basic budgeting and financial literacy, homebuyer education and financial coaching, employment and workforce development skills, weatherization to reduce utility costs, fair housing laws and landlord/tenant education, and how to start a small business/how to be an entrepreneur.

There will also be a community garden on the property, offering neighbors a chance to share in the work as well as the produce.

"We want to be able to offer it back to the community," Garand said of the 103-year-old building. "We took it. We polished it, and now it's yours."

The following events will take place throughout the week. Space is limited.

To learn more about scheduled events or to RSVP, please contact Garand at 417-225-7499.For more information about the OReilly Center for Hope, please visit http://www.cpozarks.org/programs/oreilly-center-for-hope.

Garand said the idea behind this week's events was to educate the public renters, homeowners, potential homeowners and landlords about the importance of fair and affordable housing.

"We are really trying to figure out a way to draw attention to that and make sure everyone knows their rights and responsibilities," Garand said.

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CPO hosting affordable and fair housing information events this week - News-Leader

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