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Columbia homelessness task force talks about rapid shelter, proposed distributions ordinance

The Ad Hoc Homelessness Committee discussed more details about a plan to house the homeless that was unveiled earlier this month.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Task Force to Prevent and End Homelessness met Wednesday afternoon to talk about the timeline for rapid shelter in Columbia and to discuss a proposed ordinance about free distributions to the homeless.

The leader of the Task Force, City Councilwoman Aditi Bussells, proposed an ordinance, which requires organizations distributing food or items to the homeless to get a permit to use city property for these distributions which caused concerned citizens like Elaine Cooper to raise questions about the proposal.

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"What about churches, do churches have to pay a fee," Cooper questioned. "Which is what? What would they have to pay if they did just go ahead and have an event out of the right, moral compass that leads them? $150."

Bussells says there are too many overlapping food distributions happening and costing the city a lot in cleanup costs. 

The proposed ordinance would also require organizations to print their name and the date of the distribution of items they are handing out so the city can track the litter that comes from these events. 

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However, Reginald Solis says as someone who has experienced homelessness in Columbia himself, finding food was always a challenge.

"There is Transitions and St. Matthews but they only do lunch, breakfast and dinner are hard to come by. It's hard not knowing where your next meal will come from," Solis explained.

The task force also discussed long-term goals and revealed that rapid shelter Columbia has a tentative opening scheduled for November 1.

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