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Columbia City Council approves VFW as new homeless shelter

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Columbia's City Council met Monday night and approved the purchase of the VFW to be used as a temporary homeless shelter in the city.

According to the council the VFW will be able to immediately be converted into a temporary shelter. The council voted unanimously to approve the purchase.

The negotiated purchasing price, according to the council, will total $865,000 plus closing costs and fees.

The building will also need approximately $490,000 for improvements however; city council said the improvements should not stop the location from serving as a temporary shelter immediately. The city added that a long term solution would still need to be determined.

The city will request ARPA funds in order to purchase the 13,708 square foot building and added that it would reconvene at a later date to set aside funds.

The VFW also has a large meeting room that can seat over 300 people, a lounge and a commercial kitchen among other features.

Multiple residents spoke both in favor and against the new shelter. Those opposed were concerned about an increase in homeless people in the surrounding areas, while those in favor said the shelter is a step in the right direction.

The city said most of their feedback has been positive, however; it did recognize that people were on both sides of the issue.

The city mailed a notification letter to nearby residents in late September before holding a meeting at the VFW on Oct. 10.

The temporary shelter comes as Mid-Missouri begins to see winter-like temperatures with Tuesday morning nearing record low's.

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Ben Fein

Ben Fein is a multimedia journalist for ABC 17 News. You can usually see his reports on weekend mornings or weekdays at 5, 6 and 6:30 p.m. on KMIZ.

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