Columbia task force tries to address county's rising homelessness rate

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COLUMBIA- Columbia's Fair Housing Task Force met Monday night to talk about solutions for homelessness in Columbia.

According to federal data, Boone County has one of the highest number of homeless people throughout Mid-Missouri. In 2016, 220 were homeless in Boone County. That number rose to 265 people in 2017 with 44 of them living unsheltered. 

The City of Columbia has the Functional Zero Task Force which constantly monitors the state of homelessness in Columbia. The task force uses the Housing First model for homelessness which is different than most around the country.

"We are now approaching homelessness with a Housing First model which sounds crazy," said Steve Hollis, Human Services manager. "But basically we think the solution to homelessness is a home." 

This model puts the people at the highest risk for remaining homeless in housing first, instead of having them stay in shelters. The Housing First model prioritizes chronically homeless along with families to get them into shelter faster. 

Christina Logsdon, a volunteer at Loaves and Fishes, said that she sees opportunity as the another way to decrease homelessness in Columbia. 

"Sometimes they just need assistance in getting their foot in the door with a job," said Logsdon. "Or they need a new start or they were recently released from prison. They need that open door that will get them a job, that will help them pay their rent." 

More federal data on the state of homelessness in Columbia will be released next January.