City Recruits Ideas For Long Term Homeless Solution

8:10 PM, Jan 8, 2014   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The City of Columbia released a request for information Wednesday, recruiting ideas from the community on how to address the problem of homelessness.

"How do we really move forward collaboratively?" said Councilman Cameron Runyan.

Right now, the city's emergency shelter is open and operated by Christ Central Ministries.  The contract between CCM and the City of Columbia expires in April.  The new request for ideas is intended to help decide what will happen next.

"We've used the emergency shelter operation to study the dynamic of the problem on the streets of Columbia and figure out what are the various pieces you need to solve for," Runyan said.  "There's going to be a place for everybody at the table."

Runyan has his own ideas for what the city should do.  No matter what they decide, he believes the long term solution has to not only provide services, but hold service providers accountable.

"I still believe the idea of a retreat, a large piece of land where you can get folks away from some of the negative externalities that are present in an urban core and get them somewhere peaceful and get the support and services they need around them is something we need to continue to look at," he said.

Runyan wants to not only tap into churches and non-profits for the long term solution, but hopes for profit businesses will contribute.

"Probably with government as a partial funder at the beginning, but with plans to move this off the books," Runyan said.  "If we build this on the government, at some point it's going to unwind on us."


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