Report expected at Monday’s Columbia City Council meeting outlines efforts to end homelessness


The Columbia City Council is expected to share a report on homelessness with the public on Monday, according to its agenda.

The report addresses the issue of homelessness in the community by giving citizens a deeper look at the resources provided by the city and state to end homelessness.

The report also provides information on the city’s nighttime warming center program.

The report outlines the city’s long-standing leadership role in addressing homelessness in the community, but contracts with local providers of human services, health care and housing ; support community providers and coordinate state, federal and local resources.

The report says the city has spent decades under contract with community-based providers for human, health and housing services. Funding for these contracts comes primarily from social services funding from the city’s general revenue and federal CDBG/HOME funding received by the city.

Room at the Inn, Project Bridge, The Salvation Army Harbor House and Turning Point are homeless services featured in the report.

Columbia Housing Authority, Central Missouri Community Action, Love Columbia, Rock the Community, and Voluntary Action Center are housing support services profiled in the report.

Maj. Curtiss Hartley, regional coordinator for the Salvation Army’s Mid-Missouri region, says that from his experience working in homeless services, there are two different homeless camps in the Mid-Missouri region.

“There are the chronically homeless, who due to mental issues/abuse issues are and have been chronically homeless for years. Sometimes they are comfortable living and sleeping at Then there are the new and truly homeless, who especially because of COVID have seen life changes take place, that they find themselves with no place to sleep or where to stay,” said Hartley.

Hartley said all local homeless-serving agencies are working towards potentially ending homelessness.

“They’re working towards Functional O, which is a great goal. It’s a really big deal, it’s more than people might think seeing someone around the corner with a sign at many respects, it’s a relatively invisible problem,” Hartley said.

Hartley said it takes a lot of resources and logistics to run an agency and the city shouldn’t have to deal with the issues on its own.

“There are issues that most of us take for granted and don’t think about what it takes to operate a facility like this in terms of safety, the physical assets provided to them, the cleaning afterwards,” Hartley said. “From our point of view, the city shouldn’t have to deal with these things, the private sector is really the one that has the expertise and the experience to deal with these issues.”

Hartley said he commends the city for seeking solutions to address some of the issues encountered while operating services for the homeless.

“I commend the city for intentionally pursuing solutions to address the issue and, as they have pointed out, I think it is very important that they are able to partner with those of us who are in the business of providing services to people experiencing poverty, trust in our experience, expertise, capacity and abilities to continue to do so,” said Hartley.

Hartley said the agencies’ wish was to be able to continue to partner with the city and receive funding to restructure and expand its operations.

“Our hope obviously is that some of the funds that have been made available in the last year in particular, could help facilities such as the Salvation Army and others to have partnerships in town with the development of additional facilities. , growing our facilities to be able to handle the larger capacities that are needed right now,” said Hartley.

Hartley said the city should be able to rely on the private sector.

“And so it really should be that the city can rely on the private sector, those agencies that partner with city, county, and state governments. We’re the ones with the facilities, we have the staff, we have the l experience and then use those funds to help us expand what you’re doing to be able to meet that need,” Hartley said.

Hartley said there are ways the community can contribute to help homeless services.

“Two ways, one of the first and easiest, is to financially support those of us who are in the business. It’s expensive on staff and facility management and that kind of stuff. So donating funds and blankets and pillows and that kind of stuff to any of us agencies might be of some benefit.” said Hartley. “Another way they could get involved is to go to city council and be informed and educated and advocate for the fact that the city shouldn’t be able to have to use their tax money or federal money that is theirs to provide a service that many of us in the private sector are willing, available and experienced in managing.”

In support of the community’s goal to end homelessness, established at the city’s 2016 Homelessness Summit, a large portion of the city’s social services funding has been allocated to services to the homeless for fiscal year 2022.

Fiscal 2022 social service contracts include $302,446.29 for homeless services. In 2016, the city invested $68,200.00 in homeless services.

By increasing the fund, the city had to reduce the number and amounts of contracts for child, you and family services and mental health services. The cuts were made due to passing Boone County Children’s Services and Medicaid expansion.

The city says it is proud that with intensive support, none of its shelters have closed or stopped accepting new guests throughout the pandemic.

Funding for homelessness programs in the city is provided through a combination of local, state, and federal funding sources, private foundations and support organizations, faith-based organizations, and direct provider support non-profit.

The report says city staff play a key role in disseminating information to the community about available resources. Many community members have access to state and federal resources and philanthropic resources.

Watch ABC 17 News at 10 p.m.

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