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Downtown business owners express concerns about overnight camping at Wabash to City Council


The Columbia City Council heard concerns about a shelter in the downtown area at its meeting Monday night.

Members of The Downtown Community Improvement District (CID) shared a letter about proposed recommendations to the shelter at the Wabash Bus Station.

Downtown CID Executive Director Nickie Davis outlines concerns on behalf of business owners, customers, and other members of The District in the letter. In the letter to council members, Davis writes the emergency shelter has created a "hostile environment for our businesses, their customers and residents."

The District asks the city council to consider several possible recommendations for the Wabash Bus Station.

Those proposed recommendations include:

  • End camping and 24-hour access to the Wabash Bus Station
  • Provide a stronger police presence in the downtown Columbia area and quicker response times when 311 is dialed
  • CPD to work with 311 and The District to create a monthly safety report for the area
  • For Columbia to provide more resources to groups helping those in need and for mental health responses

"Every morning there's, you know, lots of people using it for different needs and then kind of dispersing into our downtown community and it's become a little bit of a problem," Davis said.

Members of the Downtown CID plan to keep meeting with city leaders, business owners, and groups to find better ways to help those in need around the downtown Columbia area.

Columbia spends around $180 on armed security when the bus station is used as a warming shelter during the day. The cost increases to about $350 when the Wabash Bus Station is used as an overnight shelter.

The Columbia City Council is scheduled to meet at City Hall at 7 p.m.

Major Kevin Cedervall with Salvation Army in Columbia said the main problems he sees with homeless people are mental health and addiction issues.

"It's not just people choose to be homeless," Cedervall said. "A lot of them have issues that they're dealing with and being part of society is a little harder for them."

Article Topic Follows: Columbia

Erika McGuire

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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.


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