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Where Columbia Ward 2 candidates stand on homelessness following another camp clearing


A homeless camp along Interstate 70 was cleared by the Missouri Department of Transportation last week, once again bringing the issue of homelessness top of mind for Columbia residents.

This was at least the third time a homeless camp was cleared out in Columbia in the past year. Homelessness continues to be on the top of residents' minds as the municipal election approaches, with three candidates vying to represent Ward 2 after Andrea Waner stepped down.

Lisa Meyer, Robert Schreiber III and certified write-in candidate Lucio Bitoy are all running for the Ward 2 seat on the Columbia City Council.

The Boone County Coalition to End Homelessness said there were 261 homeless people in Boone County as of Feb. 21. Central Missouri has the largest number of reported homeless people in the state, according to the 2023 Point in Time Count.

On his campaign website, Bitoy said expanding affordable housing and addressing homelessness are two of the issues he's running on.

Bitoy proposes the city double its spending on affordable housing, from $15 million to $30 million. He wants to see that money go to the Columbia Land Trust to build affordable housing with permanent rent control.

"This increased funding would result in a significant increase in affordable housing units for renters, home purchasing assistance for Black, Hispanic, and low-income residents, small business support for Black, Hispanic and low-income residents," Bitoy said. "House rehabilitation for Black, Hispanic, and low-income residents. As well as the demolition of derelict properties and the construction of something new."

Schreiber calls himself the "blue-collar candidate" on his campaign website. He devoted a section of his platform to addressing homelessness.

Schreiber also championed more housing through the Columbia Land Trust, because that's the only way the city can legally have rent-controlled housing. He also said the housing needs to be environmentally efficient to save on utilities costs.

"With these new passive solar designs, you can save up to 80% on your utility costs for heating and cooling," Schrieber said. "If we can build better housing that has some rent controls as well as making it more efficient, where the tenant isn't using all their income on utilities, then that is better for the people and the planet in the long run."

Meyer does not have anything on her campaign website about affordable housing or homelessness. Meyer's platform revolves around safety, infrastructure and health and well-being.

When asked about homelessness, Meyer said she supports initiatives from local groups like Room at the Inn and Turning Point and believes the American Rescue Plan Act funds these groups are receiving should help them stick around.

Meyer said the challenge when addressing homelessness in Columbia is "helping those who do not want help."

"One shared with me how they offered their home, only to be told, 'We prefer to live as nomads', and another told me about bringing a man dinner at night and offering him a night's hotel, but he was rejected," Meyer said. "As a community, we want to offer hope and help to those in need. However, we must also recognize that some people choose differently. Therefore, remaining hopeful and setting healthy boundaries is crucial for the community's well-being."

Campaign finance reports

Meyer and Schreiber filed their final campaign finance reports before the election on March 22. Lisa Meyer began the most-recent period with $1,769.37 on hand. Her campaign accrued $8,519 and ended up spending $9,221.78. She has $1,066.59 on hand.

The report states that Meyer’s biggest spent items were $6,051.71 at Omni Prints in Moberly for campaign materials and another $2,641.55 at Cumulus Radio for radio advertisements.

Schreiber’s report shows he had $4,686.69 on hand at the beginning of the period and gained another $1,060 in monetary receipts. His campaign spend $3,193.50 this most recent period and has $2,553.19 on hand. His report shows his expenses were $2,765 for radio advertisements and $348 spend at USPS for postcards for his campaign.

Bitoy does not have a campaign committee.


City of Columbia:

Love Columbia:

1209 E Walnut St.
Columbia, MO 65201

Room at the Inn:

1509 Ashley Street
Columbia, MO 65201

Harbor House:

602 N Ann St.
Columbia, MO 65201
(573) 442-1984

CoMo Mobile Aid Collective:

Article Topic Follows: Your Voice Your Vote

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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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