Columbia city council discusses homelessness in budget meeting
COLUMBIA - Columbia’s City Council discussed homelessness Thursday during their budget work session.
Ward 1 Council Member, Pat Fowler, said she wants to bring together community members, non-profit organizations, and small groups to try and create a concrete plane to decrease homelessness.
“We have an increasing intensity of some of the circumstances of unsheltered homelessness in the community,” said Fowler. “We have lots of people who care, who have knowledge who have those transferable skill sets and so I would like to have them included in the conversation, so we can have a conversation that actually propels us forward.”
Randy Cole, Columbia’s Housing Program Manager, said the city council has already approved CARES act funds to help the homeless.
“It included a lot of funds to divert people from becoming homeless through rental assistance,” said Cole. “So trying to keep people housed, keep people in their homes from needing shelter, that makes up close to $270,000 of our budget.”
Mayor Brian Treece said homelessness is a large issue but could be hard to solve in a global pandemic.
“There are persons experiencing homelessness before this pandemic that problem will continue after the pandemic,” said Treece. “I don’t know that we can solve this problem in the middle of a pandemic, that doesn’t mean we can’t have that conversation.”
Cole also said one of the many challenges to help decrease homelessness during the pandemic are attaining resources.
“I think challenges are just like most of our communities' challenges is we need increasing needs and you know resources are harder to come by, and in particular with the pandemic hitting budgets of non-profits, so I think resources are the main issue,” said Cole.
The budget session also talked about the CARES act for the health department, eliminating curbside recycling, free public transit, having alternative taxes, and so on.
For more information on the budget session, go to the city’s website.