Neighbors voice concerns about new homeless shelter location

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COLUMBIA - Residents on North Eighth Street are voicing their concerns about the homeless center planned to be built across the street.

Columbia Alliance to Combat Homelessness, or CATCH, Board Member Tim Carson met with the Columbia Community Development Corporation June 3, to request funding approval for a homeless center.

The homeless center is set to be built in an open lot on North Eighth Street near Columbia College and Business Loop 70.

Carson said this center is needed because of the high number of homeless people in Columbia.

Geraldine Perkins lives across the street from the open lot the center is planned to be built on.

Perkins said she absolutely does not want the center to be placed in that location and will most likely move once it's built.

"I would have to move because especially if I start having a lot of problems," Perkins said. 

She said she will have no privacy with a large building full of people she doesn't know so close to her home.

She also said she fears people from the center would come over to her property and pose a threat to her home and grandchildren who play outside of her home on a regular basis. 

"I have grandchildren," Perkins said. "I don't want it to be that where I'm too terrified to let my grandkids play out back."

Ken Debretto also lives across the street from the center property.

Debretto said he isn't looking forward to the center's location because he thinks it could lead to things being stolen around his home.

"First thing I think of is theft," Debretto said. "But that's probably not a fair judgment. But it's the first things that comes to mind."

He said there are many homeless people around his street already, and his lawn mower went missing last week.

He said he feels more of his household items may go missing if more and more homeless people are around his home.

"I've had a few little problems already with stuff missing," Debretto said. "And in my opinion it might get worse with this here."

Perkins said she wishes the center would be built down the street on a different open lot away from people's homes.

Carson said the property was chosen for it's central location.

He said construction of the center is planned to begin in 2017.