Finally, some folks in this community are trying to revive the comprehensive approach to solving Columbia’s homelessness problem, two years after city council arbitrarily killed a similar effort that was well on its way.
Of course, the leadership is coming, again, from the private sector. A broad coalition including the United Way, the Salvation Army, business leaders, and an interfaith consortium, with $5 million from the Knight Foundation, are trying to get the one-stop-shop for dealing with the various pathologies that lead to homelessness. (FYI — the Knight Foundation is an organization that was once upon a time associated with the corporation that owned The State. That corporation doesn’t exist any more, but the Foundation has maintained its commitment to Columbia — which is slightly amazing.)
So what’s the city’s reaction? According to The State‘s Adam Beam, "Council members said they would be hesitant to fund an idea that has failed in the past."
Say what?!?!? The idea didn’t fail. You killed it. And it ranks as possibly the most outrageously irresponsible thing the city has done in the past 10 years, which is no small feat. The city’s feckless efforts toward homelessness since then — the "Housing First" program that addresses only a thin sliver of the problem, the sequel emergency winter shelters, just adds to the insult to all the good-faith efforts the city scuttled. ("Emergency" because each year there for awhile it seemed like a shock to the city that such a shelter would be needed — "What? It’s going to get cold again?")
Here’s some video of some of the members of the new coalition talking to the editorial board about their effort — which is admirable and encouraging, but doomed to fail if the city doesn’t get its mind right and follow where the private sector is leading.