Columbia’s city council has heard a detailed report about safety and security concerns regarding the homeless and the Wabash bus station downtown. The Wabash is located at 126 North Tenth, near numerous businesses and eating establishments.
The Downtown Community Improvement District says the Wabash is “not an acceptable place for long-term camping and sheltering,” and they’re calling on the city to end camping and 24-hour access there. District officials also want to work with the city to find a suitable location outside of downtown to help the homeless.
Downtown business owners say some homeless residents are hurting their businesses in the area around the Wabash bus station. Some testified about assaults in the area. The district wants to see a stronger police presence downtown, and they also support more mental health funding to help the homeless.
Orr Street Farmers and Artisans Market board member Dusty Dudek attended Monday’s council meeting and also posted about the issue on the 939 the Eagle Facebook page. He says the market “is usually completely trashed” on Sundays when he arrives. Mr. Dudek says someone high on meth was screaming at patrons on Sunday, swearing at them. He says customers are nervous about coming to the market.
Others view the situation differently. One resident is quoting Matthew Chapter 25: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” The city has been considering using some American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to build a homeless shelter.
Columbia’s Salvation Army continues to assist the homeless as well.