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Jefferson City police, city officials noticing more homeless individuals in city


Jefferson City is experiencing an increase in its homeless population, according to Jefferson City Police Department Lt. David Williams.

Williams said he believed the up-tick stems from the individuals moving to Jefferson City from Columbia, after homeless encampments were cleared throughout the city. Homeless encampments have been cleared out in wooded areas of Columbia several times over the past year. The city cleared out an encampment near the Highway 63/Interstate 70 connector in April 2023 and December 2023, and the Missouri Department of Transportation cleared out a camp near eastbound Interstate 70 by the Providence Road exit.

Williams said an area near the Missouri River Bridge operated by Parks and Recreation by the northern access point -- where people can camp overnight -- has brought concerns that some people are using the shelter longer than they should.

Williams said security is increasing in that area, and police would work to notify the individuals where they can and cannot be, in the event of a larger encampment that begins to cause problems.

"So, we do spend more time over in that area right now patrolling to make sure that there are not any illegal activities going on, ordinances or statutes being involved," Williams said.  

Williams said he doesn't view the issue as something needing to be contained. Rather, he said it's a matter of ensuring the individuals are made aware of the resources available to them in the community.

Ward 3 Councilwoman Treaka Young said she's seen more individuals in the downtown area, near the Room at the Inn Shelter. She said many organizations such as Room at the Inn and the Salvation Army work to accommodate these individuals, but an increase in housing is something she is pushing for that she believes could help.

"A lot of these individuals are working individuals that is a problem and it is growing," Young said. "That's one of the things I want to push for was not just affordable housing but housing on all levels to be increased."

Young said she believes more of the individuals have migrated toward that area due to RATI's hours that don't allow the individuals to stay for the entirety of the day.

"Our city, like many others can continue to explore solutions for the unhoused," Ward 5 Councilwoman Mackenzie Job wrote in a statement to ABC 17 News. Other communities have seen a housing first model that seems effective, so I think it's worth exploring here."

Treaka Young noted some homeless individuals tend to be seen near Missouri River Regional Library, located on Adams Street. When asked to confirm Young's observations, MRRL Director Claudia Young said she didn't have any comments to add, but did say "homelessness has increased everywhere."

Article Topic Follows: Homelessness

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Nia Hinson


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