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Downtown Columbia business owners say the Wabash bus station is not an acceptable place for long-term camping and sheltering (August 31, 2021 file photo courtesy of Columbia's Sydney Olsen)

Columbia staff officials: city needs a long-term permanent solution to homelessness

The Wabash Station in downtown Columbia (August 31, 2021 file photo courtesy of Columbia spokeswoman Sydney Olsen)

Columbia officials say the Wabash station downtown is not an ideal location for an emergency overnight warming center in any year, and is especially unsuitable during a pandemic.

Columbia’s city council heard a detailed report about homelessness at Monday night’s meeting.

The report notes there’s no feasible way to maintain social distancing at Wabash, to mitigate the spread of disease in that environment. The report says the safest environment for Columbia’s homeless is in emergency shelters where protocols are in place for COVID safety.

The report concludes that the city needs a long-term, permanent solution to the issue of homelessness. Staff officials are hopeful that a comprehensive homeless services center will be developed soon, with the city’s support and the collaboration of community partners.

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