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Temporary shelter for homeless community in Columbia faces uncertainty

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

A temporary shelter for the population in Columbia facing homelessness is facing uncertainty.

Columbia City Councilman Mike Trapp and his brother John Trapp set up a crisis shelter at a hotel in town to provide a place for people without shelter to stay as COVID-19 continues to spread.

The Trapp brothers created the for-profit, 4-A-Change, LLC , to help create change and solve problems through awareness, assessment, action, and accountability.

"The people who send us checks know that if we serve the most struggling people that they're going to be cared for, they're going to be able to wash their hands. They're going to be able to learn basic health information," Michael Trapp said. "That's going to keep the entire community safe and it's well worth all the investments we've received thus far."

The Trapps set up the shelter on March 26. Michael Trapp said he has asked for more robust services for people experiencing homelessness during his time on council.

"Having people who are unsheltered is a risk to the community because they don't know to wash their hands, they're not out watching tv or reading the internet, so it puts all of our health at risk by not having folks be able to have access to basic sanitation," Michael Trapp said.

City Manager John Glascock said Michael Trapp approached health and human services to set up the shelter, and Glascock told him he would be willing to approve funds for the project.

"I approved up to $10,000 for health and human services to use for a contract," Glascock said.

City Council still needs to approve the funds as well.

Now the shelter's future is uncertain because the city has not received a contract from the hotel.

"I don't know what the current situation with the shelter is. I've heard it's closing down. But it got ahead of the game. When you have a contract with the city or any governmental agency you can't start providing the service until that contract is signed," Glascock said. "To be quite honest we never did receive a contract for it and so we can't go forward with anything until we actually have a contract."

He said the city cannot pay for anything until a contract is signed. He said the city does contracts all of the time, but this one was a bit unusual.

"This is kind of unique. I don't know that we've ever done one like this. Like you said, it's a pandemic so as Steve Sapp always says, 'we're flying this airplane and building it at the same time,'" Glascock said. "We just didn't get all the things crossed on this contract and we're still trying to work toward it."

Michael Trapp said they will use the experience from this temporary shelter to learn how they can better help in the next place they set up.

"We learned not to imbed those in an extended stay, affordable housing oriented because it caused too much neighboring issues," Mike Trapp said. "Because we were able to quickly house 30 people suddenly the community thought that we should house all of the people," he said.

Now, they are working to provide a new place for people to go.

"Our plan is we're going to retreat into, in cooperation with MU medical, a monitored campsite with sanitation and trash disposal and basic health education," Michael Trapp said.

They are also working to set up a safe campsite for people who stay in their cars.

Boone / Columbia / Coronavirus / Health / Public Health Alert / Top Stories / Top Stories

Sydney Olsen

Sydney Olsen reports in the evenings during the week and on the weekend.

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