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Columbia Housing Authority and partners inviting the public to plan Comprehensive Homeless Service Center

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

The Columbia Housing Authority and its partners are inviting the public to help form plans for a Comprehensive Homeless Service Center, on Thursday night.

The event takes place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Broadway Christian Church.

The collaborative event is hosted by CHA, Loaves and Fishes, Love Columbia, Room at the Inn, Turning Point and the Voluntary Action Center.

The planning event is to work to improve the lives of homeless and housing insecure populations in the community.

The group is looking to create a center with supportive services, day center facilities, low barrier shelter, soup kitchen, transitional housing and permanent supportive housing to serve our community’s homeless and housing insecure populations.

The CHA houses close to 2,000 of the community's most vulnerable households that otherwise would be homeless or housing insecure.

Randy Cole, CEO of CHA said the center could have multiple locations throughout the city.

Cole said there is a growing demand for affordable housing in the community.

"We're seeing an additional increase in demand for the needs so we need to meet those needs and when we stabilize families, children, and households in our community those community members do better in life and it helps our community stabilize and helps our workforce be more productive," Cole said.

The CHA has around 1,200 households on its waitlist, and Columbia Public Schools has around 240 homeless students.

The CHA and its partners and the community will discuss how to house the broad and various populations of the homeless.

"Part of the discussion tonight is thinking through adding additional homeless facilities and housing facilities. What do we need to consider when we're going to be serving a lot of different populations? Everyone from a single homeless, chronically homeless individual to a woman with their children that may be in a hotel or doubled up to families that are just struggling," Cole said.

The private sector has been discussing plans for an "Opportunity Campus" for over a year. The homeless service center would be bigger than the campus and include aspects of the campus.

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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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