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Homeless connect with services in downtown Columbia


Organizations on Thursday hosted an event in downtown Columbia to provide a one-stop-shop for services for the homeless.

Project Homeless Connect was held at Missouri United Methodist Church at 204 S. Ninth St. The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services was on hand. The one-stop shop aimed to provide access to health services for the homeless.

Services provided:

  • Free HIV testing
  • Flu shots
  • Blood-pressure tests
  • COVID-19 Vaccines,
  • Free haircuts
  • Teeth cleaning 
  • Dog vaccines
  • Spay/neuter vouchers

Backpacks with basic necessities and free boxed lunches were handed out as well. Project Homeless Connect allows the city to count the homeless population as a part of an annual statewide count. 

The count helps to record trends in the homeless population while increasing public awareness according to Missouri's Balance of the State. 

"We now do it twice a year because we find it so successful and really outreaching to some of our most vulnerable population," Mark Kirchhoff, a chairman for Project Homeless Connect said.

Project Homeless Connect is a bi-annual event that provides a one-stop shop for people experiencing homelessness to access community services.

The Boone County Coalition to End Homelessness was originally started as a task force of the Basic Needs Coalition in the mid-2000s. It was originally named Functional Zero Task Force.

"Functional zero" is the point when a community's homeless services system is able to prevent homelessness whenever possible.

A conditional use permit was brought to city council by Voluntary Action Center on Jan. 17. It proposes the idea of a temporary shelter on the corner of Bowling Street and Business Loop 70. There would be a maximum capacity of 120 people, and it would be geared towards people looking for a place to stay.

According to Kirchhoff, there are numerous things big and small people can do to help.

"It could be as big as volunteering at room at the inn, volunteering at your local loaves and fishes and getting hands on," Kirchhoff said. "It could be as simple as acknowledging someone as you pass on the street if you notice they are unsheltered and just saying hi and just acknowledging them as a person."

Data on the Boone Indicators Dashboard, show that in 2020, there 191 people sheltered homeless and 46 people unsheltered in Boone County.

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Kennedy Miller

Ethan Heinz


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