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City of Columbia could pay hundreds a day to staff Wabash warming center


The city of Columbia opened up the emergency overnight warming center at the Wabash Bus Station Wednesday ahead of expected winter weather.

Wednesday was also the first day the city adjusted the hours the warming center will open. The station will open Monday to Saturday from noon until 5 p.m. and when temperatures get below 25 degrees, the shelter will open from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.

In anticipation of more people using the warming centers due to the temperature threshold changing, Columbia City Manager De'Carlon Seewood said the city decided to hire a private security firm to assist with staffing the station.

"Whenever it's staffed you have to take an officer off the street and put them there. So, instead of an officer out patrolling or doing investigation work, they are at the Wabash facility. So this was better suited for us," Seewood said.

Through a records request, ABC 17 News discovered what Citadel is charging the city of Columbia to staff Wabash. The hourly rate starts at $30.75 for an unarmed security officer and $34.75 for an armed security officer.

On days when Wabash is open from noon to 5 p.m., the city could be charged anywhere from $153.75 to $173.75. On days it's open overnight, it could cost anywhere from $338.25 to $382.25.

Next winter, Seewood said he hopes to not outsource for additional security officers and is working on plans to find a different location other than Wabash.

"When we talk about Wabash, we have to realize that it is not a shelter, it's a warming center. It's a place where, if it's cold, there is heat," Seewood said. "We've already started having conversations trying to find a new tentative location. I'm hoping we have a proposal by the summertime."

When looking at a future permanent shelter, Seewood said it needs to be on a bus route, close to services but not too deep into residential areas.

Major Curtiss Hartley with Salvation Army agrees there needs to be more overnight shelters in Columbia but not all the responsibility should rely on the city to find it.

"In the short run the emergency situation it's great that the city is able to offer this," Hartley said. "We just need more resources to be able to do a better job and provide more and more of those kinds of things so the city doesn't have to or doesn't need to and they can go on serving the many other needs the community has."

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Deborah Kendrick

Deborah is a weekday evening anchor and investigative reporter for ABC 17 News.



  1. How about they at money towards HOUSING? Why doesn’t the city want to build housing? They dont have ANY housing resources in Columbia,only foodstamps and funding for utilities. NO HOUSING PROGRAMS AT ALL‼‼ CREATE A HOUSING COMMISSION. It’s not that hard and it’s real simple.

  2. The City of Columbia has several housing programs, including:
    * Home Rehab & Energy Efficiency Program
    * Acquisition & Demolition Program
    * Homeownership Asistance Program
    * Columbia Community Land Trust

    My favorite is the Community Land Trust. They buy land and build cute little houses with solar panels. They really want to buy houses in established neighborhoods were hard working, successful people live and move a bunch of unsuccessful people there in the hopes the environmental influence of being around successful people will wear off on them and make the unsuccessful more successful. But if successful people move into an unsuccessful people neighborhood it is call gentrification and that is bad.

    The federal government also prints loads of money for housing. Ever heard of the Columbia Housing Authority? They spend millions every year keeping up housing to buy votes for the Democratic party. There is a similar Housing Authority in every town.

    The people who use Wabash are the ones who want to be homeless and because of their life choices are not welcome in any of the other dozen or so shelters in Columbia. Cops get dispatched to Wabash constantly to break up fights.

      1. Useful Liberals/progressives/communists, they are hurting all of us. About 40% of the country is too useful to realize it.

        Just like the Hunter Biden laptop, that the media establishment and the 60 some odd Washington elites, swore up and down was Russian propaganda, so they could sway the election, the truth will come out and liberals will once again be mocked and relegated to the dustbin of history where they belong.

        The silent majority will be silent no longer.

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