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New Room at the Inn winter weather shelter expected to provide more services for unsheltered people


As it gets deeper into the winter months, it is crucial to have a shelter in Columbia, that people in need can go to get warm.

In October, the city approved the purchase of the VFW building on 1509 Ashley St. for the Room at the Inn Como to use as a winter-weather shelter.

The new center will make it possible for staff to provide even more services to the people without a home.

Room at the Inn has been offering shelter to people since 2008 and has had to rely on using various churches. With a more permanent location Debby Graham -- president of the board for Room at the Inn -- said the organization is excited about the new possibilities ahead.

"This is good news that we are going to have a permanent location for Room at the Inn and now he have an even bigger partner with the city, we are very appreciative," Graham said.

Graham feels thankful, as heading into the holiday, knowing those in need will have a place to shield from the cold.

"I don't think any of us would prefer to even be sleeping in a tent when the temperatures get down to the teens at night," Graham said.

The city purchased the center on Ashley Street from the VFW, and has been clearing it out getting ready for opening day on Nov. 28.

With a bigger location they will have enough room to have separate areas for female and male guests. The VFW also has a large meeting room that can seat more than 300 people, a lounge and a commercial kitchen among other features.

"We would be able to be more responsive to changes in weather next year then we ever have before. It's ours for now and we hope that relationship continues," Graham said.

There are several shelters available for people in need, when temperatures are 25 degrees in below.

Columbia's shelters include:

  • Flourish (for teens), please call 573.615.6135
  • Room at the Inn (beginning Nov. 28), 1509 Ashley St.  
  • Salvation Army Harbor House (men, women and families), 602 N. Ann St.
  • Rainbow House (for children/youth), 1611 Towne Dr.
  • True North (for domestic violence), please call 573.875.1370
  • Welcome Home (for veterans), 2120 Business Loop 70 E.
  • St. Francis House (for men), 901 Range Line St. - must be vaccinated for COVID-19 to stay overnight

The city is also working with community providers on permanent shelters. The city is working with the Voluntary Action Center on the Opportunity Campus -- permanent housing for those in need --and it's working with the Columbia Housing Authority on comprehensive homeless service center.

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Leila Mitchell

Leila is a Penn State graduate who started with KMIZ in March 2021. She studied journalism and criminal justice in college.


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